union jackGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is delighted that the Scots voted to stay within the Union and, frankly, surprised that it really wasn’t even close.  Were I a cynic, I would suspect that Alex Salmond and his fellow “Yessers” probably knew that this was coming and ramped up the pre-vote splitsville hype to eleventy!! over the past few weeks simply in order to squeeze as much out of London in terms of monies and power as they could before the vote was cast.

Were I a cynic, of course.

And now it will be interesting to see if David Cameron actually ponies up.

As I said earlier this week, Scotland is a failed welfare state.  (I know I’m being redundant.)  IMHO, it would have found itself in a much worse condition as an independent one than as it is in its current leech-like status.   Reform is desperately needed, but I believe it can come about more readily via a United Kingdom than otherwise.

And while we’re on the topic, here are a couple bonus quotes which ought to be stapled to the foreheads of many people on both sides of the Pond:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Mags Thatcher

“Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.” – The Gipper

UPDATE:  Well, that didn’t take very long.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Earlier today, a friend of the decanter (who knows who they are) asked of ol’ Robbo, “Tom, how have the first few weeks of school worked out so far this year?”

Well, I’m happy to say that things are (touch wood) going pretty well.

Teh Eldest, now a high school junior, seems finally to have grasped that whatever her record is, she owns it.  In other words, after all those years of complaining about us nagging her, she’s finally beginning to learn to nag herself.  Laus Deo.

Teh Middle Gel, now a high school frosh, is talking much about leadership (particularly in her choir program) and is running for Class VP.   She’s an awesome kid, about whom we have very little to worry except for her apparent resistance to learning math.  (I say this here because she regularly reads this blog.  Thpppppt!! )

Teh Youngest is taking to middle school like a duck to water, loving every aspect of her new school.  One thing: she originally signed up to play cello in the school orchestra, the course description assuring that no previous experience was necessary.   Well, it turned out that a) she and one other kid were the only ones in teh whole troupe with no experience, and b) the director was not much interested in babysitting newbies.  After a couple days, teh YG decided to chuck it and I can’t say that I blame her.  The good news is that, when she went to her counselor, it turned out that a slot had become open in drama, the course the gel had wanted to take originally but was full up when she applied.  And so she switched.  Apparently, teh gel had them rolling in the aisles during an improv session this week, and her new theatre teacher is quite bananas about her.  I’m not in the least surprised.

And speaking of such things, this week teh Eldest was assigned by her Art teacher the task of snapping a photo of a family member in a “characteristic” situation, and using such photo as the model for a sketch.   In pursuit of said goal, teh gel caught me quite unawares as I was engrossed in Handel:

Attachment-1

 

 

Not the greatest pic, but nice composition.  And, I must admit, substantively quite pleasing, at least to me.

UPDATE:  In response to myriad queries as to what particular piece of Handel I was mutilating when teh gel snapped, this pic, I can tell you that it was Handel’s Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432.  Here’s a genuine performance version of it:

 

Subtract a bunch of technical errors, add a great deal of blasphemy (you can’t see it from this angle, but I’ve got a frieze of St. Cecilia on top of the piano to give me strength), and you’ve got my rendition.  Sort of.

 

 

Friends of the decanter, your humble host is slipping.  Why? Because yesterday was Battle of Britain Day and ol’ Robbo failed to post about it.

Mea culpa.

By way of making it up to the history boffins amongst you, I will offer two things.

First this:  In Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake, a novel about the RAF’s first year of WWII, he puts in one of his character’s mouth the argument that Hitler simply could not have invaded Britain because, despite the Luftwaffe’s air superiority over the Channel in 1940, the Royal Navy still would have blown an invasion armada to flinders.  Therefore, Goering went to a terror campaign (the Blitz) to bomb the Brits into submission and Churchill responded by, well, putting on a brave face regarding the RAF’s ability to fight it off (not that this in any way cheapened the heroism of teh RAF pilots and crew who took part in the defense).  And in switching from bombing the bejayzus out of the RAF’s forward infrastructure to hitting London, the Nazis made the mistake of allowing the RAF to regroup and to fulfill the part given them in Winnie’s propaganda narrative.

Second this:  I give you a long time port-swiller favorite yootoob clip:

 

Washington-Nationals1Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As regular friends of the decanter will know, Port Swiller Manor has been without cable teevee for about a month now due to the Great Basement Flood.

This aspect¹ of the disaster has bothered ol’ Robbo very little, for the most part, because he hardly ever watches much teevee outside of old movies anyway.  However, with respect to that one small part, it is absolutely driving him to drink² batty because he has been unable to watch his beloved Nationals working their way toward the NL East Division title.  Indeed, even as I type this post I have MLBcom’s Gameday open in another window as the team tries to put the season away against the dastardly Braves of Atlanta and it is a very, very poor substitute.³

As far as repairs go, I believe the contractor will be ready to paint downstairs before the end of this week, which means that we are making some progress.  If and when the Nats make it into the playoffs, I hope they stay alive long enough for the project to be finished and for ol’ Robbo to get in some more actual MASN viewing.

In the meantime, what else is there to do but surf the Innertoobs as best I can and say,

GO, NATS!!!

 

¹  On the other hand, the other aspects – the reduced living space, the cramming of furniture and things into half the main floor, the general grunginess and the constant stream of workmen in the house – are over time making me somewhat frantic.

²  Heck, that ship sailed a loooong time ago.

³   I suppose I could dial up the radio coverage, which I understand is very good.  I’ll certainly do that if we get to the playoffs before Verizon comes back on line.

UPDATE:  NATS WIN!  N.L. EAST, BAYBEE!!!!!

Second title in three years!  Not. Bad.

Friends of the decanter will forgive me my enthusiasm, especially as they will know that ol’ Robbo is no summer soldier, no sunshine patriot, but has stuck with his beloved Nats from the very beginning, through both the Bad Years and the Good.   So, ladies and gentlemen, pray charge your glasses, gun’ls down, and allow ol’ Robbo to propose once again:

GO, NATS!!!

In a prefatory note to her husband’s novel Kidnapped, Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson copies out some samples of records from a murder trial used by him as background in constructing the story.  One of these passages says, in part,

“Duncan Campbell, change-keeper at Annat, aged thirty-five years, married, witness cited, sworn, purged and examined ut supra, depones, That in the month of April last, the deponent met with Alan Breck Stewart….”

I’ve been familiar with legal terms since I started studying them in 1988, but I have never in all that time come across the verb “to depone”.  But when you think about it, what else would a deponent be doing?

And is there a linguistic relationship between depone and depose?  A sort of yin and yang capturing the interrelation between witness and advocate as the latter seeks to draw evidence from the former?  Merriam-Webster on-line gives the history of depone thusly:  Middle English, from Medieval Latin deponere, from Latin, to put down, from de- + ponere to put.  It also says that “depose” comes from the same root, so this seems likely.

I must say that the word tickles my fancy.  Perhaps I’ll figure out a way to start working it into my vocabulary.  As it happens, I’m prepping for some depositions coming up in a couple weeks, so I ought to have some opportunities.

Scottish-flagGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Being mighty near pure Scots himself on his father’s side, Ol’ Robbo has been watching the build up to the referendum on Scotland’s independence from Great Britain with some interest.

Frankly, I’ve thought it a bad idea from the beginning simply based on what I believe to be unsurmountable economic realities.  (Very broadly speaking, these boil down to the fact that some enormously large portion of Scotland’s population is now pure economic deadweight – on the dole, in state housing, deadbeat.  GB as a whole has enough resources to carry them, at least for the moment.  Scotland, on her own, wouldn’t.)

Now, having read this article in the Telegraph profiling a group of “Yes” voters,  I’m convinced that it’s a bad idea.  Why?  Because it’s obvious that there is no one vision of what an Independent Scotland will actually mean, but instead a jumbled collection of alternate ideas, many of them extremely contradictory to each other and some quite separated from reality.  Frankly, the thing smells like a cult movement to me.  And by now I think we all know how political cults work out.

Friends of teh decanter might argue that this is something for teh Scots to sort out for themselves and that an independent, localized debate is surely the best way to do it.  Well, if the biznay were merely an academic exercise devoid of real world consequences, I might agree.   The trouble is that it wouldn’t be, and my fear is that when people realize that they’re not, in fact, getting William Wallace riding in at the head of  a herd of rainbow-colored unicorns, things will get ugly.

The West is crumbling already.  Why speed up?

UPDATE:  Over at NRO, Andrew Stuttaford has a round up of the doings of what might be called the MacJacobins of the “Yes” side.  This is a what I mean about things getting ugly.

 

st michaelGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, tomorrow is the anniversary of 9/11.

I can’t give you specific details, but ol’ Robbo’s concern monitor is beeping more this year than it has in the past.

Maybe I’m foolish, maybe I’m prescient.  I dunno.  What I do know is this: whatever may or may not happen, St. Michael, ora pro nobis.

I’ll raise a glass of wine with you on the other side…..

UPDATE: Well, apparently nothing happened.  Deo gratis.  But, despite my general inclination not to comment on politicks these days, I will say this about teh Administration’s public response to the ISIS threat over the past 48 hours: What the @(@*#*(@&(%&!!!  Are you deliberately advertising yourselves as the weaker horse?  Are you deliberately bending over?  Or is it just working out that way?

God help us all.

storkGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, still without cable service with which to watch his beloved Nats try to put the kybosh on the hated Braves of Atlanta, ol’ Robbo found himself pulling a rayther unusual entry out of the ol’ Netflix queue, a 2001 movie titled “Winged Migration“.

The film is a documentary, shot over three years, tracking the travels of several kinds of birds (mostly ducks, geese, cranes and storks) from their winter grounds in various parts of the world to their summah residences nearer the Poles.

Frankly, it’s beautifully done – amazingly detailed shots of tight formations of birds winging their way over breath-taking landscapes that would make Stephen Maturin swoon- and the producers have every right to proudly note at the beginning that none of this was CGI special effects, but was instead genuine film footage.  (In the “Making Of” track, we see how the producers trained the subject birds from chickhood to “imprint” on some Johnny in an ultralight, so that when they grew up they had no problem whatever in flying about with said ultralight in their midst, camera rolling.  I seem to recall reading something about this at the time.)

And yet…..and yet….well, after an hour and a half of mostly just watching birds fly around, I found myself thinking “This is it?”

You see, the film is almost nothing but said footage, accompanied by Enya-like New Age yodeling (or so I would suppose based on what a friend has told me about Enya albums).

Yes, there are a few captions of the “Species Such-and-Such migrates so many miles from its winter grounds in Whereverland to the Arctic.”  One of these referred to the “central american plains”, which caused ol’ Robbo some consternation, considering there are no plains in Central America.  It was only after a minute that he realized the caption was referring to the central United States, specifically the Platte River, which he knew to be the winter grounds of the Sandhill Crane.

Yes, there is the occasional narration ( by a Frenchman in a voice that reminded me of that NSA agent in “True Lies” who helps Der Ahnold set up Helen for her fake op with his “Do eet ducimo…Do eet verrah slowly “), but the comments are few and far between and generally of a platitudinal variety, as in “Weeth de onset of weenter, de birds must haid south, their wan objecteeve, survivail.”   

Early Sunday evenings in Robbo’s misspent yoot usually involved Marlin “I’ll stand downstream while Jim wrestles the tiger to the ground” Perkins and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom“.  Since then, he always has had an interest in good quality nature documentaries and series, and has learned a great deal from them.   So as an aficionado, I have to say that I found this film vastly lacking in substance.   Where were the maps?  Where was the narration about feeding and mating habits?  About predators?  About the damned geographical and meteorological logistics of those jaw-dropingly long flight patterns?   (Aaaand, not to be pedantic, but the film was broad to the point of sloppiness about some of its basic premises.  First, not all birds migrate.  Second, even among species that do – for example, the Canadian Goose and American Bald Eagle cited in the movie – only a given percentage of the population migrates, while others stay year-round in certain locations.)  It seems to me that this movie was long on the surface but very, very short on the depth and complexity of Nature’s wonder.   And for that, despite the whiz-bang cinematography, it’s really not all that good.

Then again, the film was released in 2001 in the last days of the post-Cold War False Peace.  Among the obligatory shots of the birds interacting with Man (usually to the former’s detriment), we get a clip of a group of geese winging their way along the East River in Manhattan, the Twin Towers looming up on their right.  I’m really not trying to make a direct connection between a lack of quality theatrical presentation of ornithological information and the Collapse of the West, but…..you know?

Anyhoo, two glasses of port out of five.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor found ol’ Robbo up early to go labor in the fields.  Mow, trim, spray and in before the thunderstorms!

As I marched back and forth behind the ol’ mower across the collection of weeds and native grasses that I jokingly refer to as the “lawn”,  the steady, gentle breeze that played o’r my sit-upon suggested to me that yes, perhaps it’s time to buy a new pair of jeans.

Ol’ Robbo is really a khakis and cords sort of fellah, so over the years I have developed the habit of only owning one pair of jeans at a time.  I have also developed a little game I play with myself of seeing just how long I can wear them before they (sometimes literally) fall to pieces on me.  I’ve even worked out a kind of scoresheet that runs from “suitable for public view” through “suitable for home view” to “suitable for yard work if nobody gets too close” to “get the gasoline and a match”.  The current pair is well on into the third phase now and approaching the hazy boundary with the fourth, with completely frayed leg seams, permanent grass stains, holes opening under both back pockets and fly coming apart.  The third phase is always my favorite simply because it is always the most comfortable.  This fact, together with my dislike of having to start again with something new, has several times caused me to refuse to believe it was over, much to the distress of my nearest and dearest.  (I recall Mrs. R finally threw away one pair when I wasn’t looking)

One thing I haven’t done is kept track of how long each pair has lasted.  (I’ve no recollection whatever of where or when I bought the current incumbents, except that it’s been a number of years anyway.)  Nor have I tracked the differences in the way each has worn out, although they have varied greatly.  I’ll bet a chart containing those pieces of information would show something about ol’ Robbo’s changes in physical activities as he has begun to age a bit.

One thing I have kept track of is the fact that, despite my impending 50th birthday, my waist has not changed one jot or tittle since I was 19.  Still size 33, thankee.  Granted, I’m rayther flabbier now than I used to be, but not expansive.  I don’t claim any particular virtue in this, by the way.  I’m simply built like the Mothe’s father.  Nonetheless, it pleases me.

So that’s that.  On reflection, I think I’ll toss this pair into the washing machine one more time…..just to see if we can keep going a bit further.

 

With the ongoing basement renovations at Port Swiller Manor, we continue to cope with the loss of a third of our living space.  As I may have mentioned before, we had to pull everything upstairs on the day of teh flood, jamming it in wherever we could.  The dining room is completely blocked with sofas, tables and the like, while the library and living room are full of stacks of books, CD’s, DVDs’s, boxes, trunks and other assorted flotsam and jetsam.

In fact, the place is a right shambles.

On reaching adult status, ol’ Robbo shook off the slovenliness of his misspent yoot and became rayther finicky about cleanliness and neatness in both his person and his surroundings.   So living under these conditions got very old for him very quickly, and the prospect of getting everything cleaned up and squared away occupies an increasingly large part of his thoughts.  If we can’t get back to normal some time soon, it’s going to become an obsession.

First World Problems, I know, but there it is.

And on the subject of making things ship-shape, take a dekko at this thing, the Dyson 360 Eye robotic vacuum:

Now you might think that a gadget like this would appeal to ol’ Robbo, given what I say above.  But regular friends of the decanter will also recall my deep suspicion of technology, especially “smart” technology.  With that kind of circuitry don’t tell me that Skynet couldn’t corrupt it and turn it into a killer.  And just think how embarrassing it would be if, on Judgement Day, instead of getting taken out by a missile or some Gatling-toting cyborg, one awoke to find one of these things sitting on one’s face, sucking out one’s lungs.

No thanks.

UPDATE:  A few minutes after I posted this, an inspector-wallah from the County showed up to check on the doings downstairs.  While he was satisfied with things inside, it would appear that the contractor never got the proper permit for external wall waterproofing, the detritus of which is still plainly evident.  So they may very well need to stop what they’re doing, get the proper bumf and redig the ditch out front so the work can be inspected.  Pardon me while I practice my Chief Inspector Dreyfus eye-twitch……

Blog Stats

  • 398,830 hits
October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.