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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
No, ol’ Robbo has not given up blogging for Lent this year, as it’s simply a much more limited part of my time these days and I don’t feel the need to curtail it. Instead, my silence this week has been due to my having other matters to attend to. My apologies.
♦ I hope those of you practicing had a happy Ash Wednesday. Of course, “happy” is not really the appropriate term, is it? Everyone says it automatically anyway. For myself, I toddled round to the church near my office at lunchtime. The place was packed to the rafters. The Mass was conducted by the priest that I privately think of as Father Shecky, who couldn’t resist making a crack about how happy he was to see the usual weekday crowd. Buh-DUMP-dah! Perhaps I’m a bit of an old fuddy-dud (oh, shut up!) but it didn’t strike me that such a rimshot was particularly appropriate to the day, so I confined myself to a thin smile.
♦ Anyhoo, I wore the ashes all afternoon, much to the obvious discomfort of a number of my progressivista colleagues, and made a point of being especially cheerful and courteous. This year, more than any other I can recall, I was really filled with the spirit of silent witness. I’m sure it bumped me up a couple places on the list of those to be sent to the camps, but I like to believe that perhaps I might have got at least somebody to think about things a little.
♦ Speaking of thinking about things a little, the Dalai Llama is speaking down the Cathedral today, which made dropping off the Middle Gel for choir practice a royal pain, what with police cordons and crowds of New Age types wandering about. Personally, I’ve nothing against the Dalai Llama, nor against Buddhism for that matter, which from what I gather is not really a religion but more of a system of ethics. What irks me is the sort of people who buy “Free Tibet” vanity license plates and fawn all over the Llama because he’s cute, nonthreatening and mystical, perfect for the type who likes to say, “I’m spiritual, just not religious.”
♦ And speaking of school runs, getting around the local streets these days makes me feel like Han Solo in the asteroid field, what with all the potholes. Show of hands for all of those wishing Algore’s Globull Warminz would come back? Yeah, me too. I’ve also noticed a great many new cracks between moldings and walls in Port Swiller Manor, no doubt put there by the excessive cold we’ve experienced. (The other possible explanation is that the house is getting ready to collapse on itself due to the collective pounding of the gels’ feet. I don’t care to dwell on that possibility.)
♦ Speaking of the cold, despite the fact that the grounds of PSM are still covered in snow, I nonetheless feel that I must start spring gardening this weekend with the annual cutting back of the butterfly bushes known to regular friends of the decanter as Kong and the Konglings. Perhaps I’ll have a go at the wisteria, too. March is a schizophrenic month in these here parts and despite the fact that it’s only in the 30′s now, there’s no knowing when we might suddenly find ourselves up in the mid-70′s. (Typing this entry reminds me that if I want to but any spring plantings online, I damn well better do it today if it’s not already too late. UPDATE: Found some Confederate Jasmine vines at a nursery down in Georgia that I’m going to try on a trellis fronting the new porch. The innertoobs swear it’s hearty to Zone 7, which is us. We shall see.)
♦ And finally, speaking of local things, I was flipping through the local fish-wrapper this morning when my eye fell on this editorial paragraph:
Ukraine is not the only place where civil war threatened to erupt last week. In Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the City of Falls Church, there are battles raging between School Boards and the elected bodies (Boards of Supervisors and City Council) that hold ultimate responsibility for allocating taxpayer money.
Okay, ol’ Robbo is throwing a flag on that statement. Unsportsmanlike conduct: Unnecessarily hyperbolic metaphor. Fifteen yard penalty and loss of down.
Well, that’s it for now. Ol’ Robbo is off to scan the headlines before getting about his biznay. What fresh hell awaits us today?
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I’m told that the French have a proverb to the effect that a cat is always on the wrong side of a closed door.
There is much wisdom in this.
UPDATE: Sorry about the randomness of the thought above, but I wanted to get it down this morning so as not to forget it.
You see, what I love about this proverb is that it so perfectly captures the feline temperament. Unlike the expression “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” which implies a certain greediness or grasping materialism, it recognizes that for a cat what’s on the other side of the barrier isn’t nearly so important as the fact of the barrier itself.
I’ve been reminded of this almost every morning for the past five months or so due to something of a grudge match that has developed between me and Bella, the eldest of our three cats.
You see, when we redid the mawster bawthroom at Port Swiller Manor last summah, we took out an interior wall and door that enclosed the shower and thunder box, separating them from the vanity and the closet. As a result, the entire area is wide open and the only thing between it and Robbo’s bedroom is a set of French doors.
Well, without going into detail, ol’ Robbo is an absolute stickler for privacy when he is, ah, enthroned. So when I get up in the morning, I am always very careful to close said French doors between Self and the still-slumbering Mrs. R.
Bella, because she is a cat, does not like this arrangement. Previously, she couldn’t penetrate the old sanctum sanctorum because of the ordinary but solid door. However, over the past few months, she has discovered and perfected the technique of wedging her paw under the new French door and heaving it open.
Oh-kay, I thought for a while, I don’t mind her in here. So once Bella was on my side of the border, I simply closed the doors again.
Ah. Not so simple. Bella doesn’t like this, either. No sooner do I sit down again but she’s hurling her considerable weight against the same door to get back out.
Actually, I must confess that it isn’t just the existence of the barrier itself that motivates Bella, although I’m sure that is a substantial part of it. No, her behavior is also part of her passive-aggressive strategic campaign to make me shuffle downstairs and feed her, which she knows on weekdays I won’t do until I am showered, shaved and dressed.
On weekends, when I don’t get up so early, she will actually sit on the bed and watch me. As soon as she sees anything approaching Robbo swimming toward consciousness, she will come and place her considerable bulk on my stomach. If I play possum, which I often attempt, she will sometimes go so far as to smack my face with her paw. Any direct eye-contact, according to the rules of our little game, is instantly fatal to my pretense.
God damned cats.
UPDATE DEUX: Heh -
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Regular friends of the decanter will recall that ol’ Robbo received his legal edumacation back in the day at dear old Dubyanell. Good times. Good times.
In the past year or two, ol’ Robbo’s alma mater has instituted an innovative (indeed, I believe the first in the country) program, in the form of a third year practicum, by which it hopes to prepare its students not so much for the theoretical practice of law, as for the actual practice.
Personally, I think this is a very worthy idea. I came out of school relatively well-trained in knowing how to think like a lawyer and schooled in some basic substantive precedent in various topics, but knowing damn-all about the business of lawyering. Buh-lieve me, friends, there’s a world of difference, no matter where you go with your JD. The goal of the practicum, so far as I understand it, is to at least expose the third years to the chasm between the theoretical and the practical, and brace them for what they may expect once they leave the sheltered, ivy-covered walls of Academe.
Anyhoo, I bring all this up because tomorrow, through a singular combination of circumstances and my own desire to see this program succeed, I will be addressing a class of this year’s current crop of 3L’s on What I Do For A Living.
And I bring it up even more particularly because, as I was mulling over what I would say to these puppies, I realized that there is a 23 year gap between where they are now and where I was in my own third year of law school.
Great God Almighty, how did that happen?
Because no blood for oil. Or something.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
As if this year hasn’t been interesting enough, Sunday afternoon found Mrs. Robbo backing out of the Port Swiller Manor driveway in the Honda Juggernaut® just in time to T-bone some kid bombing up the street in her Mercedes C-Class. I’m not exactly sure what happened – Mrs. R swears she never saw anyone coming and the kid swears she honked and swerved – but the result is a slightly battered right-rear panel on our car and a stove in right-rear passenger door on the other car. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
Mrs. R has specialized over the past few years in backing into or brushing against various stationary objects with said Juggernaut®. This was the first time she managed to wing a moving target.
I happened to be on the phone jawing with teh Mothe when Mrs. R reappeared in teh house with breaking news of the calamity. I went outside to discover my own younger gels (who had been with Mrs. R) buzzing about the driveway, while the kid was still sitting in the middle of the road in her car, bottling up traffic. (We live on a relatively busy street.) I quickly strode up in my most Charlton Heston/Moses-like manner and, after enquiring if the kid was okay, instructed her to pull into the next driveway up. Which she did. I even got the opportunity to move said bottled-up traffic along, acknowledging my own achievement in clearing their path with a gentle wave. I love it when a plan works out.
Anyhoo, a few minutes later, this kid’s mother appeared (having been called). Said mother was driving one of those sooper-sleek, James Bond-type, Beemer sports coups and – while her daughter was in a t-shirt and ragged jeans – was, herself, dressed to the nines.
“Aw, Jeez,” I thought to myself, “The Beautiful People. Here we go…”
Well. As it turned out, the mother really was not a-tall bad. Her first concern was that nobody was hurt. Satisfied with this, she calmly took down our insurance information. And when the kid, who herself was evidently a first-class spoiled brat, started in on the mother about how she (the kid) couldn’t drive that car anymore and had to have a new one, the mother fixed her with a fish-eye and said they would sort all that out later on, emphasizing again that the important thing was nobody got hurt.
I got the overall impression that these people could buy this kid a dozen cars if they felt like it. Alas, I also eventually got the impression from the body language between mother and daughter that they probably will.
As for the crash itself, I immediately phoned USAA (who accept our custom thanks to the Old Gentleman’s stint in the Army Medical Corps). Despite the fact that the fellah I spoke with sounded like he was auditioning for the part of the village idiot, within twenty-four hours we seem to have got everything squared away. Adjusters appeared, garages were opened, rentals were engaged: Baddah-bing, baddah-boom, it was done. This is the first claim we’ve ever made in twenty-plus years of coverage. I’ve nothing against which to compare our service of course, but I will say it’s nice to see all those premiums are going to a good cause.
But the thing that made me chuckle – and made the episode blog-worthy at least pursuant to port-swiller standards – was a very small incident: When the dressed-to-the-nines mom went to copy down our contact information, she first started to lay her pad down on the hood of her own car. After a second or two, she evidently began to fret that writing with a ball-point on her hood might somehow….leave a mark on it!
Horribile dictu! Realizing what she was about, she suddenly squatted down in our driveway and instead wrote it all out on her knee. My fellow port swillers, I tell you truly that for an instant the idea flashed through my mind to get down on all fours and offer her my back as a suitable writing desk, but wiser council prevailed. Instead, I simply turned away and had a quiet laugh.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Because this is my blog, which is mine and which belongs to me, I take this opportunity, which also is mine, to lay down the law.
To wit, when I become Emperor of the World, failure to click closed a ball-point pen will constitute a flogging offense.
I mean, how hard is it to apply a single digit’s worth of pressure for an instant in order to ensure that said pen is secure and the ink on the tip isn’t left to dry out?
At Port Swiller Manor, evidently, camels and eyes of needles ain’t in it, because I cannot recall a single instance in the last twenty years when I have found a pen in said secured status.
In the shadow of other momentous headlines this morning, let us not forget that today is the day pitchers and catchers report. (Robbo’s beloved Nats actually kick off on Wednesday.)
Yes, the long, off-season drought is coming to an end.
Indeed, yesterday found Self and the youngest gel scrambling between church services to get over to the local gym, wherein were being held the annual spring softball tryouts for our local league. Despite the fact that, as happens every year, we failed to practice at all over the winter and were reduced to a last-second crash course of reviewing basic positions and technique in the basement Saturday evening, the gel did just fine throwing, catching, running and hitting.
The league is also offering a level of play for 13-16 y.o. girls this year, for which the eldest has signed up. She’s been out of the game for a few years but has shown some interest in trying out for her high school j.v. team. She reckons that she probably would not have made the cut this year owing to being so rusty, so thought it would be a good idea to play in this league for a season in order to get back up to speed.
The middle gel has also announced her intention to play softball at school this spring.
Ol’ Robbo’s going to be spending a lot of time hanging around various diamonds, most likely again in some sort of assistant coaching capacity. I can tell you even now that I’ll enjoy every minute of it. One of my proudest achievements as Dad has been to inculcate into all three gels a love of the game. Indeed, I’ve overheard all of them on more than one occasion telling friends with some heat that the reason the friends think baseball is boring is because they don’t understand it. Always brings a smile to the ol’ face.
Anyway, play ball!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Whether it was some kind of unconscious association springing from my reference to the Machine in the post below, or else perhaps because I’ve again picked up my copy of Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Clichés, I couldn’t say, but the fact remains that ol’ Robbo had quite the eeenterestink dream t’other night.
In it (I’m assuming you want to know what happened, if you’ve read this far already), I found myself standing on the street with a group of five or six people. In fact, I recognized the spot. For those of you familiar with the Northern Virginny Suburbs, it was Washington Street in Falls Church, between the Leesburg Pike and Great Falls Street. We had just come out of that little theatre which so often advertises obscure or has-been acts on its marquee. (The last time I really passed by, I believe Devo was scheduled to play.)
At any rate, we crossed the street to the other side. Once we got over, however, it occurred to somebody that we had been perfectly safe even though nobody was paying any attention to traffic. I found myself looking about and noticing a series of blue neon tubes spaced up and down the street every half block or so. I also noticed that I was wearing some kind of bar-coded bracelet. From this, we seemed to deduce that there was some kind of intelligent system in place designed specifically for the purpose, in this instance, of making pedestrian crossing safe. One fellah, I’ll call him Our Hero, decided to test this deduction: He went back and forth across the street several times. Even when he deliberately tried to get hit by a car, he couldn’t do so. They would stop or slow down or swerve.
From this pedestrian crossing safety protocol, I somehow deduced that everything else all around me was being monitored and controlled by the same system.
Suddenly, the scene shifted. The same group of people were again standing on the side of the road, only now it was a different road, a quieter, more residential one with a large hedge and ditch running along one side. We had somehow decided that we didn’t like this surveillance/control regime, and were going to “do something” about it. (What, specifically, I didn’t know.) To this end, Our Hero and two other men got into the back of a small pickup, which then proceeded to drive up the road and around a bend. Seemingly an instant later, the pickup came back, rolling to a stop in the ditch next to where we were standing. The two other passengers appeared to be not only dead, but severely mauled. Our Hero was alive, but looked as if he’d been roughed up pretty badly.
I started to walk up the road. Suddenly, a bus came thundering around the bend. I turned back and called “Bus!” It went straight to the spot where the pickup was and crashed into it. A few seconds later, a large tractor came around the bend. Again, I said, “Tractor!” It, too, went straight to the pickup. Only now both the tractor and the bus assumed cartoon form. They sat back on their rear wheels and began to pummel the pickup with their fist-like front wheels. However, after a few seconds they seemed to realize that Our Hero was no longer in the pickup. The tractor and the bus looked at each other with cartoon expressions of puzzlement, and question marks and exclamation points shot from their heads.
After it became clear Our Hero wasn’t there any more, the bus’s doors opened, and a large collection of beings came out. They were cartoon animals like squirrels and raccoons, together with smiley-faced emoticons. The group started to fan out and search in a very precise pattern of quartering.
All this time, I’d been kneeling down next to the hedge some yards up the road. I decided that if this lot was looking for Our Hero, it was most likely looking for all of us associated with him as well, and that it was advisable for me to clear out. I stood up and started moving away. And then, as they say, I woke up.
The feeling I came away with was of a feel-good happy werld dystopia that turned absolutely, ruthlessly savage at the slightest dissent or even question. Why it also morphed into something out of Roger Rabbit, I couldn’t tell you.
Those friends of the decanter who keep up with either Robbo’s beloved Nats or the Tampa Bay Rays will know that they currently are playing a set here in town. (The rubber game is tonight.)
Because the Rays are an American League team, I naturally do not pay much attention to them. So last evening as I watched the game, I was surprised, and frankly disgusted, by something I had not noticed before.
You see, I knew that Tampa Bay had dropped their original mascot of “Devil Rays” in favor of just “Rays” at some point. I thought this a ridiculous thing when I learned of it, figuring it was no doubt demanded by some P.C. Police unit that believed use of the word “devil” in the name would propel hordes of young people toward Satan worship. But if I understood correctly, the team wasn’t getting rid of the fish mascot itself. It at least would still be the same genus Mobula, right? Right?
Well, as I watched the game last evening, something about the Rays’ logo grabbed my attention:
When did this happen? When did Tampa Bay decide to abandon a mascot that was perfectly suited to its geographical location and overall aura and instead substitute what looks like a car’s turn signal?
To quote Syndrome, “Lame! Lame! Lame!”
Oh, and snooks to you, Joe Maddon!
One of ol’ Robbo’s ironclad rules of office etiquette is never to discuss politics.
Would that everyone in my little professional community felt the same way. I’ve just had to listen to an excruciatingly enthusiastic and brayingly loud description of the latest presidential candidate kerfluffle report to come out of the pages of Pravda on the Potomac, emanating from a pair of colleagues up the hall.
This time around, I was merely a collateral auditor. Four years ago, one of these same persons actually tried to rope me into a debate on the comparative worth of the candidates. I simply fixed her with a frozen stare and a very thin smile. It shut her up for a while, but I’m not so sure whether the burnt fool’s bandaged finger may not go wabbling back to the fire.
At any rate, I’ve an idea it’s gonna be a looooong summah and fall.