Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe that after all these years (almost 14 by my count) of blogging, today marks an historick first, insofar as I am posting today for the very first time from the immense comfort of my hammock on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor.

I must say, I could seriously get used to this.   (Indeed, one of the Four Things which Ol’ Robbo hopes to do when and if he is ever able to retire is to turn his attention to more serious writing.  If I’m not mistaken, none other than William Makepeace Thackeray is said to have done his very best work while similarly lounging in his hammock, so you never know!)

And what are the Four Things, you ask? Well, as I say, one of them is serious writing.  Another is to reform my garden from a butterfly-bush wilderness into an orderly, civilized set of flower beds.  The third is to actually sit down and work up some piano musick to performance level, instead of forever sight-reading.  Finally, I want to take up golf again, which I haven’t seriously played in 25 years.

So there you are.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends for you:

♦  We had a very cool and wet spring in the neighborhood this year, with a resultant lushness that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  Indeed, so much so that the hedge of hollies which we planted along the sidewalk out front some years ago have positively exploded.  T’other day, Ol’ Robbo came home to find a piece of paper taped to his mailbox.  Its gist was that the hollies were sticking branches out over the sidewalk and could we please cut them back.  It was signed, “Your friendly neighbors.”

I’ll give them that the trees needed pruning (which I did yesterday), but there is something about the passive-aggressive nature of this “friendly” notice that really irritates Ol’ Robbo.  Indeed, I was half-tempted to scrawl “Balls to you!” on the thing and just leave it there.

Ah, well, at least it was a tad better than the little snirp who, once or twice over the years, has actually hacked down some of my branches and simply left them lying all over the sidewalk.  I caught him at it once, and it was only the gray hairs on his head that kept me from taking a horsewhip to him.

♦  Speaking of horsewhips, Ol’ Robbo realizes more and more what a bye he got with the Eldest Gel not being at all interested in dating when she was in high school.  Suddenly it seems both of the younger Gels have romantic irons in the fire, and Ol’ Robbo’s stomach muscles are tightening accordingly.  (Actually, the Youngest’s is a very polite and sensible young man, who I think I like.  She’s so besotted with him that she’s actually going to try and take honors chemistry next year because he is.  Gawd!)

♦  And speaking of the Younger Gels, it’s off to Bible-Thumper Camp tomorrow morning.  This will be Middle Gel’s tenth year and Youngest’s eighth.  (Right now, all of Robbo’s wymminz are in the kitchen, squabbling over a trip to Tarzhay to pick up last-second supplies.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  Ol’ Robbo is feigning deafness.)

♦  Oh, and have I said it lately?


Whelp, that’s about it for now.  Another advantage of hammock-blogging, now that the Gels have left on their equipment-run, is that I can simply hit the power button, close my laptop, and go nappy-byes.

As I say, I could get used to this.  Zzzzzzz………




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!!

A whirlwind visit out west this week for biznay, but I’m back home at Port Swiller Manor with my feet up today.  This is one of those times that I regret blogging anonymously, because the results of said visit were pretty durn satisfying and I wish I could happy dance about them just a little bit.

Heigh, ho.

Anyhoo, the perpetually smart-assed Eldest Gel pointed me to this little article this morning:  Psychopaths Drink Their Coffee Black, Study Finds.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Innsbruck, found that a preference for bitter flavours was linked to psychopathic behaviour. 

The closest association was between bitter foods and “everyday sadism” – that is to say, enjoyment of inflicting moderate levels of pain on others. 

She suggested I might want to ponder this.

I suggested she go to hell.

I didn’t dig down into the “study” itself, but I did get wondering a bit what it would consider to be “psychopathic behavior”.  No doubt Ol’ Robbo’s strict adherence to old-fashioned values of morality and etiquette (including, as demonstrated by this little dialogue, the Fourth Commandment) now make him ripe for such labelling and therefore a prime candidate for commitment to the Happy Fun Re-Education Camps the Authoritarian Left so dearly wishes to establish. (Although now that I’m getting a bit older, they might consider a bullet in the jolly old brainpan to be more efficient.)

Speaking of the Eldest, she’s suddenly become an Authority on the Proper Raising of Children, laying down the law about how strict parents ought to be and what a travesty it is to let the younglings spoil and run to seed.

I’ve learned to quickly put down any beverage I might be holding (including my cup o’ joe – black, thank you very much) when she starts to rant about this, in order to avoid the chance of a painful nasal emetic.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had one of his patent weird dreams last night.

In this one, I was helping home an elephant who had gone one over the eight.

Not only was it drunk, it was up on its hind legs, stalking along slowly but shakily. I found myself leaning up against it on one side, steadying it as it swayed along.

Then I realized that this was no ordinary elephant, but that it was dressed up to the nines with spats, cravat, tail-coat, and top hat.  Also, that we were in a very fancy-shmancy urban neighborhood, something like Louisburg Square in Bahston.

Eventually, we reached a very well-to-do-looking townhouse, which I understood to be the elephant’s own.  For some reason, they wouldn’t let us in, so I steered the elephant to the next house over.  It proved to be equally sumptuous, and the door was opened by a very well turned out older lady.

As I maneuvered the elephant inside and helped him collapse on a convenient sofa, I apologized to the matron for our unseemly intrusion.

“Oh,” she said, “that’s quite all right.  We’re used to him.”

And then, as they say, I woke up.

I hadn’t the remotest idea what all this was supposed to mean.  Thinking it over, my best guess is that I have been rereading George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman Papers for the umpteenth time recently, and just finished Flashman and the Redskins.  In it, Fraser uses the Victorian slang about “seeing the elephant” at one point.  I can only suppose that this expression stuck with me for some reason.

Why I “saw the elephant” in that particular condition, however, remains a mystery.

** If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

UPDATE: Oh, all right.  Enjoy!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is out on the porch this pleasant Saturday evening, lap-top in, er, lap, glass of wine at his elbow, watching the sunlight gradually withdraw from the sky.

A few idle thoughts for you:

♦   Eldest Gel called me at work yesterday morning, positively fuming.  “DAD!” she said, “I just got my latest paycheck and…..WHAT THE HELL IS IT WITH ALL THESE DAMNED TAXES?!!!”

Because I am what I am, I immediately remembered that line from one of the first episodes of “Friends” when Jennifer Aniston’s spoiled-rich-girl-tossed-into-street character gets her first coffee shop paycheck: “Who is this FICA guy? And why does he get my money?”

Also because I am who I am, I responded by quoting the paycheck gal from “Raising Arizona”: “The gubmint do take a bite, don’t she!”

This wasn’t exactly a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus thing for her, as she’s already deeply suspicious of the State, but her long-standing theories are now being backed up by experience.

♦ Middle Gel and I caught the end of our beloved Nationals’ third straight win against the hapless Mets earlier this evening.  The team were wearing these weird, sky-blue hats and socks and whatnot.  The Mets, and the umps for that matter, also had various sky-blue accessories.  Everyone seemed to be wearing ribbons, too. Puzzled, the Gel looked it up on the innertoobs: apparently this is some sort of Fathers’ Day Weekend tribute.

Ol’ Robbo dearly wishes the MLB would just cut this sort of thing out.  This is baseball, for Pete’s sake, not the Virtue Signalers’ Club.  Furthermore, some of these stunts go well into subject matters on which, shall we say, not everyone actually agrees, even though it’s politically incorrect to say so.   Knock off the ribbon-bullying and stick to the game, says I!

(Oh, and while Ol’ Robbo is handing down directives, get rid of the damned DH rule, too!)

UPDATE:  Gratuitous on-point first attempt at posting YooToob clip from my laptop:



♦  Finally, Youngest Gel, some time this past wintah, bought tickets to go see her favorite band, 21 Pilots, play a concert in Columbus, Ohio this week.

The problem? Said Gel didn’t bother to coordinate with anyone about a) whether she was actually allowed to go, or b) if she was, how she was actually going to get there.  In typical Youngest Child mentality, she figured she’d present the concert as a fait accompli, and rely on our scrambling to find a way to make it happen.

Gel is now having a sadz because she finally realizes that we’re not going to accommodate her.  (Sorry, no.  I wouldn’t let Eldest Gel drive you that far even if she wanted to, which she doesn’t.)

Next battle? When year-long insufficient GPA warning meets passionate desire to get learner’s permit.

The tears.  They’re……delicious.

Am I a very bad man?  I think so.  I think so.

UPDATE DEUX:  Sun now long gone, I see the fireflies are out this evening.  First time I’ve seem them this year.  Ol’ Robbo dearly loves him some fireflies.  They’re so….shiny.


Bad, bad biznay today.  Bad, bad biznay.

Of course, this was obviously a lone-wolf shooter, and we may never, ever, know what motivated him.  All we can do now is light candles, wear ribbons, and stand together,  Dee Cee Stwong.

Oh, and moar gun control!

(Oops! Forgot I had that Sarcasm Function turned on.  I’m still getting used to this durn laptop.)

Honestly, though, I have no idea what is going to happen now that Lefty eliminationist rhetoric is bubbling up and out of the innertoobs and starting to actually affect real world actions in such a dramatic fashion.

From what I’ve seen of the chatter today, there are those on that side who are positively delighted, but surely a great many more sensible liberals – including most of the Establishment types – must realize that if this genie is allowed out, it’s going to come for them, too?

For that matter, even the radicals themselves ought to know this.  Somehow, though, they always seem to think they can ride out the Whirlwind. History would suggest, however, that this is a very foolish bet.  (See, e.g., Robespierre, Maximilien, filed and receipted by the Terror he himself had a major hand in starting.)

If there is not an immediate, united condemnation of this sort of thing, it’s going to get very ugly, very quickly, I fear.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to catch the “Trump” version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar up in Noo Yawk.  It’s just art, you know, but ever so deliciously edgy…..

(Actually and for realz, I’m going to go and watch “Duck Soup”.  What Would Rufus T. Firefly Do?  Answer: “He’d stand ’em up against a wall and *POP* goes the weasel!”)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is very happy this evening because La Wrangler is home from the shop, where she’d been since Friday morning owing to a case of the dreaded Jeep “Death Wobble” which I had been ignoring for about seven months, but could no longer avoid addressing.

The analysis of the trouble reported to me was that I had a duff steering damper that needed to be replaced.  When I went round this afternoon, I decided to employ my google-fu talent to stick on a little side with the service-wallah.

“You know,” I said, “there are a number of Jeep forums out there that say replacing the steering damper is only a Band-Aid that may mask the real reason for the Death Wobble.  I trust your people inspected the entire front suspension? I mean, I wouldn’t want an overlooked, burned out ball-joint or something causing me to suddenly cartwheel arse-over-teakettle into the Potomac some fine morning, you know?”

A rather alarmed look spread across the fellah’s face.

“Oh, no! The tech who did the inspection? He’s ex-military.  And used to work at the Jeep place across the street before we bought it out.  He’s very particular about things and surely would have flagged any other equipment that needed looking at.”

Later, I realized the fellah was right.  For one thing, this inspector had also flagged a leak in my rear pinion seal and the need to service the front and rear differentials and transfer case, so he was certainly thorough.  For another, if there were something else wrong in the front suspension, I suspect he’d have been on it like a duck on a Junebug.  I dunno if these johnnies get some kind of finder’s fee, but the dealership certainly would have loved any excuse to whang me for another three or four hundred bucks if they could have found one.

Anyhoo, here we are.

Friends of the decanter should understand, by the bye, that ol’ Robbo is really only a fellaheen of a Jeep enthusiast and probably would be stoned to death by the purists if I ever showed my face at a Jeep Jamboree.  I love my Wrangler simply because she’s sporty-looking and fun to drive and I love the open air when all her sides are off.  I don’t for a moment pretend to adopt the “image” that goes with driving a Jeep, earned or otherwise.  And in all the thirteen years I’ve owned her, I doubt my Wrangler has ever actually rolled over anything but asphalt.

Indeed, I’m reminded of the incident last year when I brought her into the local gas station for her annual inspection.  I’d left the radio on – tuned to the Local Classickal Station – and the mechanic looked at me and asked with a smirk, “You off-road to this, bro?”

I laughed, winked, and said, “Ride of the Valkyries, man!”

He laughed, too.

I like to think we understood each other.

One other thing:  The past couple days sans wheels, Ol’ Robbo has been forced to return to commuting into the Imperial Swamp by metro. I hadn’t done this, really, for about the last five years, and had forgotten how completely hellish it is, especially now that summah has hit good and hard.  Never again will I even think about going back to mass transit on a regular basis.  Never.  Again.

UPDATE: Just so friends of the decanter don’t dismiss me as a Frasier (or worse, Niles) Crane over this post, let me remind you all again that I learned to drive when I was 12.  On a stick-shift.  Off-road.  On a ranch in the Hill Country of South-Central Texas.  So, there.

R.I.P. Adam West.

Although I only saw the old series as late afternoon reruns when I was in elementary school, I still like to say that West was the only “real” Batman, mostly to annoy the sort of people who take comic book (excuse me, “graphic novel”) characters seriously.

If nothing else, you have to admire the guy for being such a good sport about making his name over something that was so eminently silly, and respect him for cashing in on it as well.  Rayther like Bill Shatner in that, I suppose.

Speaking of the Caped Crusader, Eldest Gel made me watch the Lego-Batman movie a couple weeks ago.  Yeebus!  The pure inundation of light, sound, and movement nearly caused Ol’ Robbo to have a seizure.  Is this what it takes to keep our Ritalin-soaked kids’ attention these days?

UPDATE: Speaking of comic book moovies reminds me of a discussion I had with a work colleague of the feminist persuasion this week about the new Gal Gadot Wonder Woman movie.  She was of the opinion that it probably wouldn’t appeal to adolescent boys.

I thought back to my own misspent yoot and my droolings over the lovely and talented Lynda Carter in the same roll.

“Oh,” I said, “I think they’ll like it.”

Maybe not for the grrrlzz-power reasons my colleague would want, but…I think they’ll like it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I know I posted a couple weeks ago about Eldest Gel’s return home after her freshman year in college, but I’m pretty sure I’ve not yet mentioned that she, in fact, made the Dean’s List for her spring semester.  Ol’ Robbo is mighty proud of that.  So is she.

What I’m finding equally gratifying is the education she’s getting this summah slinging smoothies down to the local shop.  She comes home with all sorts of stories – about menial jobs such as cleaning out the restroom; about lazy or incompetent co-workers; about penny-ante criticism from managers; about rude and obnoxious customers.

“You really have to swallow your feelings and wear a mask to get on with people at your job, don’t you?” she observed to me today.

“Yes.  Yes, you do,” I replied.

“Sigh,” she said.

“Hey,” I replied, borrowing one of the Old Gentleman’s sayings, “If it was fun, nobody would pay you to do it.”

She smiled at that.  The Gel does like her monies, after all.

Another thing I said after she griped about some customer who gave her a hard time about something: “Hopefully, you’ll remember this the next time you’re on the other side of the counter.”

“Oh,” she answered, “I have so much more respect for people who work jobs like this.  I’ll never forget that.”

That’s my Gel!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I must say that observing my office mates today chattering about and then watching the big Capital Hill hearings that were finally going to destroy the Donald reminded me strongly of all those Christmases of my misspent yoot when I would hurtle down the stairs in anticipatory ecstasy only to discover that my parents had once again failed to give me a pony.

Back in the day, the tears were bitter.  Now they’re delicious.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter may be interested to know that, after several months of excruciating thumbs-only blogging from his iPhone, Ol’ Robbo is typing out this post with (most of) his ten fingers on a brand-new Acer Aspire E 15, an early Fathers’ Day gift courtesy of Mrs. R. (We decided that trying to revive the dead iMac in Robbo’s study probably just wasn’t worth the bother.)

Yee, as they say, haw!

As I sat at the kitchen table this evening setting the thing up, the two Elder Gels draped themselves over the back of my chair kibitzing in a most officious and condescending (not to say, amused) manner about Ol’ Dad trying to deal with 21st Century technology.  (That my very first act, before even turning the durn thing on, was to paste a square of duct-tape over the camera lens, was a source of additional hilarity.  Inept and paranoid in their eyes, I am.)


They’d have thought it even funnier a few moments ago as I tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to download a picture from my email account to this post.  Cut, paste, and save are still sweet mysteries on this thing, but I’ve no doubt I’ll sort them out, as Manuel would say, “Heventualleeeee!”

Anyhoo, I’m back.


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