Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over at the Puppy-Blender’s place, Stephen Green quotes at length an article by Arthur Chrenkoff that is well worth cut-and-paste emphasis here:

The Millennials can’t remember very much – and they don’t learn very much either. It’s easy being hot for socialism or communism when you actually have a very little idea of what it is and what it did throughout the 20th century. And the Ys have that ignorance in spades; one third of them think that George W Bush killed more people than Stalin and 42 per cent have never heard of Mao – but over 70 per cent agree with Bernie Sanders. Some research suggests that only 15 per cent actually have a correct understanding of socialism. It’s not just politics; the Millennials are the most woefully undereducated and miseducated generation in a very long time. To be fair, that’s not strictly their fault; that attaches itself again to their Boomer grandparents who have been in charge of our failing education systems during this time. Combine the modern indoctrination-cum-dumbification taking place in schools and universities with the attention span-killing impact of information technology and social media, and you have a barely literate cohort, which is simply not equipped with the necessary mental tools to learn about the real world even if they wanted to.

Yep.  Ol’ Robbo would only add that this is no accident, but a deliberate campaign by Leftists in Academia to turn the next generation into mindless, easily-manipulated zombies.  And no, I don’t need any tinfoil, thank you.  I know all about the Frankfurt School and the Gramscian Long March through the Institutions.

To think that I was naïve enough at one point to believe that when the Soviet Union collapsed, our troubles would be over.

It has been my number one mission in life to save my own children from this brainwashing, and I like to think I have been somewhat successful at ensuring they are both analytically sound thinkers as well as knowledgeable about actual history.  To give an example, they’ve all got the figures of the slaughters caused by the “great” 20th Century despots – Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. – at their fingertips.  And they all recognize that Bernie Sanders (or Wilson or FDR, for that matter) – style “Progressivism” is just another variant of collectivist authoritarianism sprung from the same root as the “-Isms” championed by these monsters.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo is chuckling to himself because Eldest told me yesterday that she got into a dust-up with her religion professor over whether the Nazis were socialists. “What part of ‘National Socialist Workers’ Party’ did she not understand?” the Gel exclaimed indignantly.  She gets that there are subtle variations among the different collectivist creeds, but she also gets the modern meme of Hitler = Fascist = Right-Wing = Republican, and rejects it whole-heartedly.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah, that Ma Nature, here she come again!

Youngest’s school already announced this afternoon that they’ll be closed tomorrow.  The County has been extraordinarily skittish about this sort of thing since they blew a call a few years back and stayed open when they really shouldn’t have.  (Icey, untreated roads, as I recall.) Some of the kidz tracked down the Superintendent’s social media page and hammered him mercilessly.

I expect Uncle will go to “liberal leave” status, too, which Ol’ Robbo probably will take since it seems the worst of the storm is going to hit during the morning commute and I’ve a check up scheduled for the middle of the afternoon out in the burbs anyway.

They’re still fiddling with accumulation predictions – 2 to 5 inches followed by sleet and freezing rain in the immediate area is the latest I heard – but I’ve noticed that they’ve lowballed all of their predictions this year and we’ve wound up actually getting more, so who knows.

The odd thing about this storm is I didn’t even realize it was coming until this morning.  As of yesterday, I was under the impression we were going to have a generally sunny and not too cold week.

For all tomorrow promises to be a nastygram of a day, however, we’re supposed to by up into the 60’s on Sunday.  We’re entering that time of year in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny when Ma goes into her cray-cray mode.  Must be that “climate weirding” that Alexandria Donkey-Chompers and her friends say means we have to kill all the cows, ground commercial aviation, eliminate the internal combustion engine, nationalize all private property, and tax ourselves back to the Stone Age to prevent. .


UPDATE:  Nope, ‘Nunky actually told us to stay home today: The Robbo abides.

OPM, which is essentially the god of the bureaucracy, is a strange creature.  Over the many years I’ve been in and around Dee Cee, it seems to shift from time to time in attitude toward weather-related closure, but these shifts do not appear to line up with changes in control of either Congress or the White House.  There have been stretches where nothing short of Gotterdammerung would cause OPM to close, while there have been others where it has jumped firmly on the “Eek! A snowflake!” bandwagon.  Of late, it seems to have been fairly loose.

For all that, it’s coming down pretty hard as I update, and I wouldn’t go out in this one way or the other.  (FWIW, it looks like the weather folks might have lowballed it again.)  I’m chucking my doc appointment, too.  Kawfee and idleness for the win!

UPDATE DEUX: Maaaybe a lean four inches altogether here before it turned briefly to sleet/freezing rain before going totally drizzle.  Mrs. Robbo was completely fogged as to why I wanted to dash out and heave the snow off the driveway while the rain was coming down but now I know I’m all set for tomorrow morning’s commute.  Aaand, I don’t have to break into my stock of de-icing pellets.

Incidentally, while I was up at the top of the drive, a snowplow came bombing up the road: He caught me good and hard with his wash.  Ouch.  I think he was just mad because with me standing there he couldn’t take out my mailbox undetected.  Bastard.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of his day off today to get the ol’ garden cleaned up and ready to go for the new year (read: raze everything to stumps and clear out all the deadwood).  I’m sure Mr. Washington will understand, given that he was a man of the soil, too.

As I went out this morning, I heard Mrs. Robbo grumbling under her breath.  Mrs. R has never liked Robbo’s garden, occasionally suggesting we should sod it over or even install a tennis court.  Even though I vehemently protest against these ideas every time she floats them, I can’t say that I don’t understand her attitude:  In all the years we’ve lived at Port Swiller Manor, I’ve never yet worked it up to anything near what I want it to be.  At its best in high summah, with all the butterfly bushes in full bloom and the place covered with tiger swallowtails, a few monarchs, various bees, and the odd hummingbird, it has a definite sort of shabby, dryad loveliness.  The rest of the year?  Not so much.

Robbo’s Ideal

In fact, I know exactly what I want to do with the thing. I want to re-survey the central path and put a border of side-by-side bricks around it.  I want to pull out most of what’s in it right now and put in a series of raised beds, although I plan to leave butterfly bushes interspersed between them.  Then I want to build up the soil in each bed to specific levels of acidity or alkalinity to correspond with whatever flowers I decide to put in.  Then the whole thing has to be heavily critter-proofed. (The deer don’t come in the yard anymore because of the dog, but Mr. Bunny Foo-Foo sometimes does and the groundhogs are a real menace.)  This will involve a lot of fencing that I might even electrify. (Sistah does this to keep the foxes out of her chicken yard.)



Something Closer to Robbo’s Reality

All this, of course, will involve both time and money.  I don’t mind about the time so much, since I’d hire somebody to do the basics for me.  (One of the benefits of having reached my mid-50’s is not feeling I have to prove anything by trying to do it all myself.) The money, on the other hand?  Well, what with the kids still on our coattails for at least the next few years (even as I type this, Mrs. R is on the phone haggling with a dealer over a possible car for Youngest), it’s just too much of a stretch.  Just for laughs, a year or two ago I got an estimate on just some of the more basic first steps.  Even that I found to be unconscionable.

Ah, well.  I’m perfectly content to wait, even if Mrs. R isn’t.  In the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novel The Ionian Mission, the British Admiral commanding the blockade of Toulon, who is very old and sick, longs for nothing more than for the French to come out and fight before he dies or is sent home.  He refers to the waters between the inner and outer squadrons of the British Fleet as the “Sea of Hopes Deferred”.   I’m beginning to think of my garden as a “Hope Deferred”, too, but with any luck I won’t have to wait quite so long for its realization.

Incidentally, that “Ideal” photo comes from this site, which looks to have some pretty good ideas….

UPDATE:  You may be asking yourself, “Self? Why doesn’t Ol’ Robbo go for a gradual transformation….like, say, one new bed per season?”  Well, that idea has been slowly creeping into my braims, too.  There may well be much in it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Middle Gel came home from college this weekend, ostensibly because this was her last opportunity to see us until we ourselves travel down for her spring concert some time in April.

It seems to Ol’ Robbo that college life agrees with the gel, as she looked terrific.

Oddly enough, though, I didn’t wind up seeing all that much of her, as she spent a great deal of time in her room.

When I asked Mrs. R why this was, she just laughed.

“Well you ought to know, Mr. Introvert, since she gets it from you,” she said. “She’s just got through a month of having to be intensely social with rushing Delta Gamma.  Are you actually surprised that she really just wants to be alone for a while?”

Put it like that, no, I can’t really say that I am.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Say, what do you call a sexually-perverted Cardinal who gets defrocked?

A good start!


(Bwa-ha-ha!! As a lawyer, Ol’ Robbo has been savoring the chance to turn that joke on somebody else for a long time.)

Seriously though, it was the right thing to do ( or dignum et justum est, as we Extraordinary Form sharks like to say).  And about time, from what I’ve heard.

Ol’ Robbo just hopes for two things:

First, that Mr. McCarrick is able to find it in himself to get help, confess his sins, and truly and humbly repent. (I have absolutely no idea what his current status is in that regard.)  The above joke notwithstanding, we really should not take pleasure in seeing others fall, even the genuinely nasty ones, but instead should fervently pray for their redemption.  (God knows most of us ourselves, for all our condemnation here, are closer to the hot place than we’d care to think.)

Second, that this not be a one-and-done thing.  There is plenty of filth still embedded in all strata of HMC, even the highest, and it’s got to be flushed out.  The Vatican can’t simply check the box labeled “Cashier McCarrick” and hope the problem somehow goes away.  That’s a PR stunt, not a serious attempt at reform.  Drain the swamp!

UPDATE:  I’m beginning to suspect that my padre is a secret friend of the decanter because touching on the current unpleasantness he highly recommended The Book of Gomorrah by St. Peter Damian (whose Feast is this week) to emphasize that this isn’t just a case of One Bad Man but has been a chronic issue throughout Church history.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo would be fibbing if he said Spring was in the air in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor just yet, but I think it’s safe to say she’s certainly at least in the offing.

Yesterday, as the puppeh and I made our way through the woods on our walkies, I noticed that the indigenous briars are starting to sprout their first leaves.  And as I look out my library window, I see that the earliest-blooming of my maples is now showing red at its fingertips.

So yes, I think she’s definitely on her way.  Huzzay, huzzah! Fall is still Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season, but Spring comes in a very, very close second.

Of course, this means that after kicking his heals most of the past couple months and filling this space with assorted non-gardening nonsense, Ol’ Robbo suddenly has lots of things to do.  Specifically, now that late winter is  upon him, pre-season pruning becomes a priority.  The butterfly bushes in the garden need to be hacked back to their stumps; it’s now probably not too early to cut back the roses as well; and if I’m out with my clippers anyway, I probably should have a go at the wisteria too.  And, of course, I haven’t yet finished clearing out the debris from the fallen tree back of the fence.

Ayuh, nevah rains but it pours.

And speaking of late winter matters, now that the worst of the cold appears to be behind us (furtively touches wood), I am agog to see how some of my more delicate plantings fared.  I never got around to wrapping insolation around the boxwood in the urns on my patio, but they don’t seem to have suffered much.  (It got pretty damn cold here this year.  If they survived that, I’m not going to bother with the insulation going forward.)  As for the jasmine I put in last spring, it’s entirely too early to tell, but I think they’ll be okay.


** A variation on “Hurry Up and Wait”, an alleged military expression that made it into the family lexicon in Ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot.  The Old Gentleman was legendary for demanding pinpoint punctuality from everyone else and then being late himself.  I differ from the old boy in that while I, too, demand punctuality, I don’t lag myself but usually beat everyone else to whatever the deadline might be.

Greatings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, for those of you interested, Ol’ Robbo made it back to Port Swiller Manor from his latest biznay jaunt safe and sound.  A few observations:

Yesterday morning featured about three hours of driving in a subcompact rental through a 30+ mph crosswind.  By the time I was done, my forearms felt like Popeye’s.

DFW is just about the least user-friendly airport I’ve ever encountered.  (Yes, even worse than Dulles.)  Huge, labyrinth-like, poorly-signed, and full of people who don’t really seem to give a damn.  No greenhorn at dealing with new airports, I even managed to get lost trying to find the south gate from the rental-car place and driving along the perimeter road a while before realizing my mistake.  And just getting back in to the terminals was difficult because you can only do it by elevator because of some huge construction project.  Love Field for me next time.

The first leg of Robbo’s trip home last evening was aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  I believe this was my first time.  What a beast.  I like all the high-tech, coo-el, futuristic-looking internal gewgaws, and I’m sure the premium seating is pretty sweet, but for us folks in the back?  It’s just another cattle-car.  The good news is that although it was another choppy flight, the thing is so big that I barely had any sensation of being off the ground.

Oh, and the woman with the infant/toddler combination who sat next to me outbound the other day?  There was another one on the way back.  She was far enough away, however, that the squalling proved only a minor nuisance, unlike the metallic voice of one of the stewardesses, who spent seemingly the entire flight in the rear galley haranguing a co-worker about some crisis or other.  Sheesh.

I flew American this time.  Every single flight was overbooked and every single boarding process was fraught with high drama.  What’s up with that (as the kids say)?

Ol’ Robbo contrived once again to leave his sunglasses in the rental car.  It got me wondering how much money those sunglasses huts in the terminals make off just such morons like myself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s a happy, happy day.  Know why? Because Spring Training starts today!  Yip! Yip! Yip!

Ol’ Robbo is feeling generally pretty good about his beloved Nationals going into the 2019 season.  Bryce or no Bryce,*** I think we made some good off-season trades to bolster our starting rotation, to bring some depth to the bench, and (hopefully) to shore up the bullpen, and making allowances for all the things that can go wrong over 162 games or more, I firmly believe we’re contenders this year.

(***Not the Phillies.  That’s all I ask.  Not the Phillies….)

Last year’s embarrassing mediocrity lay, I think, in a sort of languid assumption that we were going to walk away with the pennant again.  And I think it was unfortunate that we started out with rookie manager Dave Martinez doing weird things with camels and “group sessions” and all that other HR-inspired “community building” crap during spring training, rather than reminding the guys that they needed to be hungry for it from Day One.  I believe we really never caught up from that stumble.  Whole damn season felt positively flat.  Hopefully, he’s learned a thing or two about management and motivation from the experience, and we’ll see the Nats come out of the gate a lean, mean, fighting machine.

Plus, I think we kinda didn’t expect anyone else in the division to play very well.  Atlanta put paid to that.  Some of the other clubs are looking more promising this year, too.  Again, hopefully we’re not misunderestimating our rivals.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’m feeling pretty good, although I’ll save actual season predictions until after camp.

And apart from that, what else is there to say except





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo must hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning for a quick biznay trip that will get him back to Port Swiller Manor very late Thursday evening.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will bother bringing along my personal laptop.  If I don’t, this post is meant to explain my silence for the next few days.

Here’s something to ponder in the meanwhile:  Friends of the decanter may have come to sense over the years that Ol’ Robbo is something of a nut about planning and punctuality.  True enough.  (In this, I highly approved of Middle Gel’s former high school choir director’s iron rule that if you’re early, you’re on time; If you’re on time, you’re late; If you’re late, don’t bother showing up.  My college crew coach held the identical view.)

Yet for all that, I have never been able to bring myself to pack for an early morning trip the evening before, but instead typically fill up the ol’ suitcase in a fog and haze at Oh Dark Thirty.  I almost always find myself scrambling to beat the clock in my packing so that I can make it to the airport the obligatory two hours before my flight leaves.

I suppose part of this is sheer laziness, part evidence of a reluctance to leave.  Also, I admit getting a certain kick, after all the kerfluffle, of sitting about in the departure lounge and kicking my heals because I’m always way early.

Yes, I’m weird.

Anyhoo, back later.  Unless I check in sooner.  We’ll see.

FLYING THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES UPDATE:  Brought the laptop after all.  Which is just as well because Ol’ Robbo can now kvetch about his flight out this morning.

Not only did it prove to be one of the most beastly, choppy, turbulent flights of my experience.  (Three hours, about two thirds of it with the seatbelt sign lit and the stewardesses sitting down.  At one point, I swear the pilot rammed the throttle wide open just to try and get through the next patch of very bad sky as quickly as possible.)

Not only was I worried that the very large man in the seat in front of me was going to cause it to collapse into my lap by all his heaving around in it.

No, the cherry on top of the ice cream was that I was seated next to a young mother who had both an infant who couldn’t have been more than a month or two old and a toddler somewhere in the 2 y.o. range.  When the infant wasn’t being nursed (at least the mother brought along a covering for that), he screamed his bloody head off.  When the toddler didn’t feel she was getting all the attention she deserved, she screamed her bloody head off.

Part of me thought the mother quite brave for juggling this pair and all their accoutrements all by herself in a (for the most part) calm manner.  The other part of me heartily wished she were being brave somewhere else.

Of course, listening to all this rather took my mind off the plane being tossed about so much, but in the end, even when two such irritants cancel each other out to some extent, it’s still a mighty exhausting time.



Friends of the decanter who also follow the Boys of Summah know that pitchers and catchers report next week, meaning Opening Day is just around the proverbial corner.

What you might not have seen was this week’s announcement that the MLB is officially changing the term “Disabled List” to “Injured List”:

Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said Thursday the change is being made at the suggestion of advocacy groups.

“In recent years, the commissioner has received several inquiries regarding the name of the ‘Disabled List,'” Pfeifer wrote in a memo. “The principal concern is that using the term ‘disabled’ for players who are injured supports the misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports.

“As a result, Major League Baseball has agreed to change the name ‘Disabled List’ to be the ‘Injured List’ at both the major and minor league levels. All standards and requirements for placement, reinstatement, etc., shall remain unchanged. This change, which is only a rebranding of the name itself, is effective immediately.”

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t care about the language itself so much as the idiotic reasoning behind this nonsense.  Whose “misconception” are we talking about?  When I see Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Eaton was put on the DL for some injury or other, my immediate reaction is, “Oh, no, what happened to him and when will he be able to return to play?”  It is emphatically not, “Golly, Zimm and Mighty Mouse are now just like those people with disabilities who are not able to participate or compete in sports.”  Where is the evidence that people exist who would actually think this way?

Well, if MLB has decided to go down this road, allow Ol’ Robbo to suggest a few other changes:

“Strike” – This is far too violent, and especially in a men’s sport has particular connotations of violence towards women.  May I suggest “gold star” instead.

“Ball” – Again, with a men’s sport, I can’t help noticing that this word also is slang for a certain part of the male anatomy, and in this context might be seen as promoting rape culture.  Let’s go with “Good try”.

“Steal” – Obvious reference to theft, which is sure to be a pejorative re-enforcement of our prejudices regarding certain sections of the population.  Try something more uplifting like “sharing the next base”.

“Sacrifice fly/bunt” – Too Jesus-y.  In order to do away with antiquated notions of “God” and bring a proper sense of the proletarian struggle, call it a “People’s fly/bunt”.

“Designated Hitter” – Sorry, there is no better term for this.  Better get rid of it and the rule providing for it altogether. Now.


“Foul” is out.  We now say “inappropriate”.

The “warning track” is now the “reminder zone”.

“Suicide squeeze”? Fuggedaboutit!

I’m sure friends of the decanter can think of some more apropos amendments to the patois in aid of further suppressing wrong think.

In the meantime, Ol’ Robbo is off to watch his copy of “Major League“, in part to get myself in the mood for spring training, in part to thumb my nose at those forces of darkness who have  disappeared Chief Wahoo from the Cleveland franchise and no doubt will try to do away with the Indians’ name altogether some time in the near future. Maybe they can be the Cleveland New Green Deals?

(Pro tip re the movie: If you fast-forward through the subplot love story between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo, this is a very economical little flick, and you’ve enough time left over for the behind-the-scenes extras which are quite informative.)




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