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Well, per my post immediately below, that’s done for today.  About a six hour job altogether.

Mrs. R asks why I don’t just hire somebody to clean up the leaves.  No doubt I will someday when I’m old and feeble, but while I still have my strength I believe this to be one of those things I ought to do myself.  For one thing, there’s the exercise.  For another, there’s the satisfaction of comparing before and after and knowing that I was personally responsible for causing the change.

Besides, today was bright and cool but not cold, the leaves were dry and easy to move, and it was nice to have an excuse to be outside pottering about.  My attitude admittedly might be somewhat different were the weather soggy and frigid, as happens from time to time.

Oh, and I may not have mentioned it before but we had a pretty “meh” foliage season this year.

By the way, as I shlepped up and down the hill with my tarp full of leaves, I found myself continuously mulling over this article I picked up over at the Puppy-Blender’s this morning:  Colleges struggle with protecting students without being accused of victim-blaming.   All I can say is that if we have slid so far into the pit of cultural infantilism that simple common sense is not only abandoned but is considered outright evil, then we’re in a whooooooole heap of trouble.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There has been an usual amount of lobbying this year among teh Gels to decorate the exterior of Port Swiller Manor with lights and whatnot apropos of the Season (which, this year, seems to have started a couple days after July the 4th)

Fact of the matter is that, as I explained to them yet again,  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t do exterior lights or other fancies.  As far as he’s concerned, when the purple Advent ribbons are switched out on the front door wreaths for the red Christmas ones on Christmas Eve, his outward celebratory sign work is done.

This did not go over well.  Indeed, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

To which I replied, “Look, when you are all grown up and have your own homes, you can decorate it for the holidays (or for any other reason) however you wish.  Until then?  Shut it.”

Hey, that’s me – Mr. Sensitivity.

Mrs. Robbo wants to string up some lights around the back porch ceiling this year.  As to that, I’m less inclined to kick, largely because – even though we plan to host one or more holiday shindigs this year, I doubt fairly seriously whether anyone is going to want to venture out there, what with ManBearPig bringing the freeze and all.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been down the past couple days with a bout of the ‘flu.  This has become a sort of annual drama here at Port Swiller Manor.  First, Mrs. R badgers me about getting a flu shot.  I resist because I don’t like shots.  Then, when I get the ‘flu, instead of nursing me back to health she badgers me even more about why I didn’t listen to her in the first place.


Well, it may or may not be because of the ‘flu, but ol’ Robbo had one of his extremely rare dream-within-a-dream specials last night.  (I can only recall having maybe two or three of these before.)  In the first part, I dreamt we had some additions built on to Port Swiller Manor.  When we came to view the work, we discovered that the contractor had gone far, far beyond what we were expecting.  I found myself standing in a vast room of cherry wood floors, enormous bookcases, a ceiling far overheard, deep windows and a marble fireplace at one end.  Mrs. R and I were both pleased and puzzled and took the attitude that, so long as we weren’t actually paying more money than we had agreed to, then we wouldn’t complain about the result.

Then I “woke up” and found myself in what I thought was my real house.  It was cramped and low and made of plywood and bare sheetrock.  As I looked about, I saw the shoddiness of the “real” job the contractors did:  Everything out of plumb, cracks and crevasses everywhere and an ominous bowing in the floor.  Indeed, even as I watched, a sofa suddenly collapsed down through said floor, punching another hole in the floor immediately beneath and eventually crashing into the basement.

And with that, I finally really woke up.

Then I dreamt that I found out the Middle Gel was dating a 20 y.o. guy.  When I confronted her about it, she tried to talk me round, showing me a picture of him on her cell phone.  He looked a total brute.  I told her to break it off immediately and she went away in tears.  Somehow or other, I then became aware that she had snuck off with said fellah to some kind of SciFy convention.  I hurried there and found myself running in endless circles between a large auditorium and a foyer crammed with people in weird costumes milling about, standing in long lines and interviewing each other, but I couldn’t find her anywhere.

What do you think?  Too much Nyquil?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I draw your attention to a very good article by Jonah Goldberg from yesterday on the transformation of the idea of “integrity” from the pursuit of Objective Good to the pursuit of Whatever Floats Yer Boat.  Money graff:

Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

The G-Man talks a lot about Nietzsche, and undoubtedly the latter is one of the main culprits (along with Freud) to provide  ersatz intellectual cover for this attitude, but the Storm Troopers who actually took it out of the faculty lounges and imposed it on the culture at large in practical form were the goddam Baby Boomers, who for the last forty years have held the high ground in academia, politicks and popular media.  As a matter of fact, the “Newseum” in Dee Cee currently is running a self-congradulatory exhibition of portraits entitled “The Boomer List”, consisting of nineteen photos of prominent Boomers, one from each year of the era.  With the exception of 1959’s Ronnie Lott, who so far as I know is a blameless and decent man who was an excellent football player, the lot of them fill me with contempt. (Yes, yes, I know that some of you are of that generation – I only missed it by less than a month myself.  But I’m guessing that most friends of the decanter constitute the exception to the rule.)

When I look about me at the level of rot and debasement to which these people have brought us, all in pursuit of their own selfish, hedonistic ends, I begin to twitch and foam at the mouth.  (It’s everywhere, but Goldberg illustrates his point primarily through cable teevee series.  He mentions “Dexter”, the gratuitous slasher show about a homicidal maniac who’s actually okay because, get this, he only kills other homicidal maniacs, do you see?  Mrs. Robbo started watching that series early on, but after a few episodes I asked her – as a personal favor to me – to stop.  She did.)

See, this is the thing:  If these people acted the way they do in an isolation chamber, I’d be much more inclined simply to dismiss them.  Perhaps sorrowfully, if I thought about it, but still – I’d probably chuckle in the same way that I do while perusing The Darwin Awards.  However, it’s the effect they have had and are having on the world in which my children and their children will have to live that so enrages me.  (I have taken to using the adjective “soul-destroying” recently to describe things and ideas I want them to stay away from.  List seems to be getting longer all the time.)  Furthermore, not only are teh gels finding and having to deal with the fact that the traditional morality they’ve been taught at home all these years doesn’t seem to jibe with what they find on the Outside, where they are considered weirdos or even Haters, there’s also the fact that this Übermenschy worldview, when put in practice, simply is unsustainable as a whole over more than a few years.  Here’s some more from Jonah:

How’s this new morality going to work out for us all? I’m reminded of the time when an entrepreneur announced he was going to release a new line of beer laced with Viagra. Some wag immediately quipped, “What could possibly go wrong?” Which is pretty much where we are today. It’s impossible to predict what Integrity 2.0 will yield — because no society in the history of Western civilization has so energetically and deliberately torn down its classical ideal and replaced it with do-it-yourself morality. But a betting man would probably wager that this won’t end well.

I suspect that before long we’ll be pining for the good old days, when, no matter how often people failed to uphold the standards of integrity, those standards actually meant something.

Yep.   God help us all.

RaceAnd nicely apropos, I just became aware of a new book by one of my favorite authors, John Zmirak (along with Jason Scott Jones) entitled The Race to Save Our Century:  Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and a Culture of Life.  Sayeth the ad copy:

In The Race to Save Our Century, human rights activist Jason Jones and political/economic scholar John Zmirak, combine to issue a stark warning to the West, and to call on readers to embrace and promote five core principles of a Culture of Life: . The innate dignity of every human person, regardless of race, age, or handicap. . The existence of a transcendent moral order, by which we judge the justice of all laws and policies. The need for a humane economy that embraces freedom in a context of social responsibility. . The crucial importance of decentralized, responsive government that preserves civil society and freedom. . The need for solidarity, for a sense of fellow feeling and common obligation toward each and every member of the human race.

I’ve just now ordered a copy from the devil’s website and will let you know what I think of it.

springsOl’ Robbo finds it somewhat odd that of all the cat toys we’ve ever had, by far the biggest bang for our buck has been from these simple plastic springs.  Teh kittehs absolutely love them.  Indeed, one of them, Ginger, is forever demanding to play fetch with them (or as we call it, “Where’s the Mouse?”).

I’ll throw one of the things down a hall or across a room and she’ll go tearing after it and pouncing.  Then she brings it back.  Of course, not all the way back, but rayther to a spot just out of my reach, where she will drop it and then stare at me until she gets me to move over to it.

Because in the end, of course, the absolute favorite game of any cat is Manipulation.

UPDATE: Stolen from tonight’s AoSHQ Overnight Thread, an apropos yootube:

As regular friends of the decanter know, we have two young gingers and an elder cat of a color described by Groovy Vic as “shite-brindle”.  The younglings and the oldster hate each other and the last year has seen them staking out areas of influence and schedules of occupation.  The biggest advantage the former have over the latter is their ability to seize the high ground, given that old Bella is too fat and lazy to jump up on tables, counters and the like.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo informed me this morning that I’m not allowed to do yard work today since I’ve been down this week with the stomach bug, so I’m just having a cup o’ joe and noodling around here.

♦   As a matter of fact, I feel considerably better.  Yesterday I had a massive headache all day, which was actually good news because that always seems to be one of the last stages of these things for me.  Indeed, I like to imagine them in terms of  nor’easters that first form off Cape Hatteras (my stomach) and then roll up the East Coast (shoulders, neck, head) before heading on out to sea.

Yes, I’m a weirdo.

♦   Speaking of nor’easters, hello Polar Vortex!  (The Port Swiller thermometer hit 32 degrees for the first time this morning, but the kerpow is scheduled for later next week here.)  AlGore could not be reached for comment – I understand he has a hot new lead on the whereabouts of ManBearPig.

♦   Speaking of seasonal changes, we got all the ferns and potted palms moved in off the porch last week.  They look so nice inside I think we’re going to keep them here and just get new ones for outdoors next spring.

♦   RIP Tom Magliozzi of NPR’s “Car Talk”.  I used to listen to him and his brother Ray every Saturday morning, especially back in school, and regularly found myself rolling on the floor in laughter.   Indeed, his stock “Aww, Jeez” has become a staple of the Port Swiller lexicon.   (As a matter of fact, I stopped listening to Click and Clack out of protest when they got on the “SUV’s are Global Warminz!! Eleventy!!!” bandwagon, but I still remember the old days fondly.)

♦   Speaking of people in the nooz, just who the hell is this Lena Dunham person?  (I’ll take pathetically spoiled, hyper-politicized narcissists for a thousand, Alex.)  As the father of three daughters, I simply cannot conceive how any one of them would wish to grow up emulating that.

♦  Speaking of pathetically spoiled, hyper-politicized narcissists, it may just be my imagination coupled with wishful thinking, but I’m beginning to get the impression that people have had just about enough of that sort of thing and that the tide may be beginning to turn.  I hope so.  I hope so.

♦   Somewhat related, Scott Hahn, the popular Catholic convert and apologist, writes very insightfully and I’ve learned a great deal from him, but the fact of the matter is that his over-use of exclamation points and catch-phrases puts me off his books.

♦   Finally, speaking of books, I’ve started through the Charles Portis cycle for the umpteenth time.  (If you don’t read Portis, you’re really, really missing out.)  Allow me to quote a small piece from the beginning of his first novel, Norwood:

Norwood and Vernell did not live right in Ralph but just the other side of Ralph.  Mr. Pratt had always enjoyed living on the edge of places or between places, even when he had a choice.  He was an alcoholic auto mechanic.  Before his death they had moved a lot, back and forth along U.S. Highway 82 in the oil fields and cotton patches between Stamps, Arkansas, and Hooks, Texas.  There was something Mr. Pratt dearly loved about that section of interstate concrete.  They clung to its banks like river rats.  Once, near Stamps, they lived in a house between a Tastee-Freez stand and a cinder-block holiness church.  There had been a colorful poster on one side of the house that said ROYAL AMERICAN SHOWS OCT. 6-12 ARKANSAS LIVESTOCK EXPOSITION LITTLE ROCK.  On the other side of the house somebody with a big brush and a can of Sherwin-Williams flat white had painted ACTS 2:38.

I just love that.  Love the style, love the substance, love the little quirks.  Portis is from the Ark-La-Tex area and captures its details lovingly, not snarkily.

There really is a Hooks, Texas and a Stamps, Arkansas – they’re a few miles the opposite sides of Texarkana.  And U.S. 82 really does run through them.  Alas, I cannot find a Ralph, Texas.  I think it must be a stand-in for either Leary or Nash, both of which are between Hooks and Texarkana.  (If you’re into this sort of geekery, you can read Portis’s True Grit with google-map open at your side and very easily trace Mattie Ross’s journey from Yell County, Arkansas into the Eastern Oklahoma badlands, and in fact to the mountain hideout of Lucky Ned Pepper, which I believe is a state park now.)

Acts 2:38, by the way, reads: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Good advice for anyone.

UPDATE:  Well, I got one home-improvement project done anyway, namely running the cables behind the basement wall between the teevee and the Verizon box.  I used a fish tape to bull up through the insulation between the two holes, then ran a loop of line through, splicing the heads of the various cables to it and pulling them through more or less on the capstan principle.  Turned out to be rayther more difficult than I had anticipated, at least so far as getting at the tape head the first time.  Luckily, I have small hands so was eventually able to grapple it and get it out.  I even had the sense to leave the line in place (the end discretely coiled behind the teevee) in case the gels need another one of their infernal video contraptions hooked up.

A small matter, but nonetheless something from which I can draw satisfaction.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, teh Eldest Gel certainly had an interesting evening yesterday.

Driving along one of the major downtown arteries on the way to pick up teh Middle Gel from choir, she suddenly heard an almighty bang (like a bomb, she said) almost directly behind her.  Glancing in her mirror, she saw a car just behind her suddenly hit the curb, flip over and slide into a tree.  Evidently, the driver had tried to cut somebody off changing lanes and failed – the other car clipped him  and  flipped him.

Of course, the gel immediately stopped.  Mrs. R (who was riding with her) called 911 and the both of them, together with several other onlookers, stayed with the two occupants of the flipped car until the police showed up.  Evidently, they were shaken, even stirred, but did not suffer any major injuries.

In telling the story to me, the gel remarked that it’s one thing to see those driver ed movies meant to scare newbies.  It’s something completely different to see the Real Thing happen.

But what really impressed me was that the Gel also said that, when she first got out and didn’t know the status of the people in the flipped car, she prayed for them.

Ol’ Robbo was both stunned and delighted by this demonstration of Christian charity and piety.  Teh gel is not known for her sympathetic nature in general, and I have frequently worried that, although she calls herself a Christian, she doesn’t really get what this implies in terms of doing unto others.

I am terribly grateful that my worries may perhaps have been misplaced.

Laus Deo.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and stand back – I don’t want to infect you.

Yes, ol’ Robbo spent most of the day today in bed, down with a stomach flu which seems to have come a’calling at Port Swiller Manor.   And in that time he had a couple of his patented bizarro dreams, which frankly seem to have been on sabbatical for a while.  I can’t remember the one, but the other is very clear still in my mind.  Would you like to hear about it?  Oh, good….

Well, it seems that I was on an airliner, a wide-body, flying to some resort destination or other.  It was a long flight and people around me seemed resigned just to hunker down and tough it out, when all of a sudden the stewardess appeared at the front of the cabin, determined to turn the situation into a flying party.

I recognized the woman:  About four or five years ago I found myself making numerous trips back and forth to Cleveland on biznay.  At one point, we were flying out every week, sometimes twice a week, and it got to where we knew the flight crews pretty well.   (It was a Continental regional jet and there was only the one attendant  each time.)  This woman was one of them, and the reason I remembered her was that she started her pre-flight safety routine every time with a lame joke about us being en route to Honolulu.  (Nobody ever laughed.)

Anyhoo, in my dream she got up and announced that she and a golf pro who was onboard were going to have a driving contest, hitting from tees just behind the cockpit and aiming at targets on the aft bulkhead.  Once again, nobody laughed.  Indeed, they didn’t even seem to react.

I happened to be sitting right up front and to one side, so I knew the stunt wouldn’t affect me directly, but I thought it pretty hard cheese on the people sitting in the potential flight paths.

Go figure what all that might have been about.

Oh, the other thing I recall is that the flight was a bit bumpy, but it didn’t bother me.

voteGreetings, my fellow port swillers!  Oh, hellz yeah, ol’ Robbo voted today:  The fear and loathing meters are pegging pretty damn high this year.

We shall see what happens.

An interesting anecdote that may or may not be of any particular significance:  The Repubby seeking to fill our House seat (upon the incumbent’s retirement) happens to be a member of my parish – I see her at Mass from time to time – and is well known for her social conservatism.   So the Donk challenger decided to run with a full-bore War on Wimminz campaign against her this fall, stuffing the port swiller mailbox with daily fliers about how she wants to return to the bad old days when all wimminz were forced to barefooted pregnancy.

Of course, ol’ Robbo himself is immune to this sort of thing.  What was interesting was Mrs. R’s reaction.  She’s not anywhere near as orthodox in her views on social issues as is ol’ Robbo, nor does she pay anywhere near as much attention to politicks.  Yet every time she saw one of these screeds, she would shake her head and say, “With all the terrible things going on these days, why is he picking a fight about that?”

Why, indeed.

Of the senate race in Our Fair Commonwealth, I have no idea what to say, as both campaigns have been virtually invisible to me.

There were a couple of other issues on the ballot.  One involved an exemption from state property taxes for the surviving spouses of military KIA’s.  Ol’ Robbo is always glad to do what he can for those who serve in uniform.  There was also a bond issue that involved a dollar amount with a whooooole lot of zeros.   Ol’ Robbo almost invariably votes against bond proposals on the principle that one does not give more whiskey to an alcoholic just because he wants it.

As I say, we shall see what happens.  Every time I promise myself that I am not going to spend the evening obsessing over returns, and every time I wind up breaking that promise.  I may not even bother making it today.

Oh, and here’s a scary thought:  The next time we go through this?  The Eldest Gel will be old enough to vote.  Yikes!

UPDATE:  Just a reminder – If your shadenboner lasts more than four hours, contact a physician.   I believe “self-loathing electorate” is the funniest post-mortem spin I’ve seen so far this morning.


I can’t help noticing the rise of what I can only characterize as sass among teh gels as they get older.  Recently, it seems to have focused around commentary about the content of Port Swiller Manor itself:

Daaa’aad, I don’t like the tile in the front hall….”

Daaa’aad, you should paint the basement a different color…..”

Daaa’aad, that table you got to put between the sofas in front of the teevee is really lame…”

Ungrateful whippersnappers!

I have no problem at all answering all these criticisms in the same way:  “When you have worked long and hard enough to be able to afford your own home, you can decorate it however you wish.  In the meantime, shut up and be grateful for what you have.”

Kids today: They’re young.


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