Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo isn’t commenting yet on the details of the latest mass shooting up in Oregon as they still seem to be rather murky.  I’ll only offer this:

Why is it that the inevitable first response out of some people to this sort of thing is the demand for action that would only have the effect of disarming more law-abiding folks and providing that many more targets?

I’m sure there are those advocating tighter gun control who genuinely mean well and just don’t understand this concept.  However, I am equally sure there are those advocating said control who understand it very, very well.

With each of these incidents, Ol’ Robbo thinks harder and harder about arming up himself and his family.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s been a while since I last trotted out this meme, but it seems apropos here since the question of the moment is: A donde va Señor Wah-Keem?

A few clicks one way, it heads out to sea.

A few clicks t’other, a major pasting for the Port Swiller Manor neighborhood.

Eh.  From a practical standpoint, the only question is whether ol’ Robbo needs to clear the more airborne-potential items off his porch or not.  We shan’t see until Saturday morning, I guess.  Of course, the standard Port Swiller Manor disaster protocols still apply: Chop up the furniture for firewood as needed.  Eat the cats first.  If required, eat the children in descending order of annoyance.

We could hold out a while, if necessary.

Thinking about all this, I was reminded of my few past hurricane encounters.

Ol’ Robbo sat in the Port Swiller Manor library watching Isabel roll through back in ’03.  The main storm hit in teh evening.  What I recall mostly was the fantastic lightning effects:   The cloudbase was very low and most of the lightning within it gave off a diffuse, copper color.  Every now and then, however, there would be a bolt out of the clouds.  These were all of a fantastic, florescent blue, and of an intensity I’ve never seen in ordinary thunderstorms.  Quite dramatic.

I was also in central Connecticut when Gloria rolled through in ’85.  That storm hit us early in the morning.  Being college kids, our response was to huddle out in the dorm halls and party.  Candles and cheap champaign.  I must say, that was the earliest in the day I’ve ever got drunk and you can keep it.

Stretching further back, I have a very vague memory of Celia from my misspent yoot in San Antonio.  As I recall, this was the first time I saw the circular cloud bands associated with this kind of storm.

Of course, I should acknowledge that my brother holds the family record in these matters:  He was in Charleston when Hugo came ashore.  (He was in med school there at the time and was drafted into work at the local hospital.)  Bro told me that he doesn’t remember much in part because he was so busy and in part because everything was boarded up, but still……

Anyhoo, we shall see if we can haz panick….

UPDATE: Well, so much for that.  I’m not even bothering to take the glass or the magazines off the porch.  Fall is definitely here, however….


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

AlbrechtsbergerThe setting of the Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form today at ol’ Robbo’s church was by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809).  I’d never heard any of his musick before, but I found myself smiling in recognition of the name because Albrechtsberger was one of three of Beethoven’s teachers with whom Lucy attempts to spike Schroeder in a “Peanuts” strip I remember from my misspent yoot.  (Salieri was another.  I can’t recall the third for certain but it might have been Franz Anton Hoffmeister.)

This just goes to show that there’s no such thing as “useless” trivia and that one never knows when some obscure factoid lodged in one’s braims at random might not come back to serve a purpose some day.

The setting itself (in D Major) was perfectly fine, by the bye, although I do not recall a Gloria in which the text was run through so very quickly.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool and cloudy Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor with rain threatening (or shall I say teasing) over the next few days.  Good time to sit out on the porch with coffee and dog.

Going back to work yesterday after taking off the previous three was…odd.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the President of China was going to be in town.  It was a bit disconcerting to see the ChiCom flag all over the place and I got caught in the gridlock caused by the departure of his motorcade on my drive home.

Nonetheless, a good day.  Mrs. R and the Eldest went down to Sweet Briar overnight to attend Founder’s Day, the Middle Gel got asked to the upcoming prom Homecoming and the Youngest landed a part in her school play.

As for the announcement of the resignation of Weepin’ John Boner from the House, I take that as a symbolic victory rayther than a substantive one, since I’m sure the GOPe will simply select another RINO squish to take his place, but it was still a Good Thing.  So when does Bitch McConnell get his?  And the reaction from a number of GOP legislators – about those mean old Tea Party whacko-birds getting uppity – ought to make it abundantly clear to anyone who hasn’t figured it out by now that the GOPe is not an opposition party but a collaborationist one and that the real political fault line here is not so much liberals vs. conservatives as insiders vs. outsiders.  Bad cess on the lot o’ them.

UPDATE:  New contacts are in and they’re fabulous, although it’s going to take me a while to get used to putting them in and getting them out, especially the latter.  (Hard lens removal is easy-peasy since all you have to do is stretch your eyelids to pop ’em out.  This putting your fingers on your eyeballs and scrunching the lenses up biznay will be a bit trickier, especially when ol’ Robbo is, shall we say, “tired”.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, ol’ Robbo finds himself knocking about Port Swiller Manor for the third day, quietly waiting for Pope Francis to wrap things up downtown and head north.

♦   Frankly, I’ve not paid the least attention to the coverage of events so far.  For one thing, I absolutely refuse to let the media (mainstream OR social) tell me what I ought to make of it all.  For another, I just don’t cotton to anything that smacks of celebrity hype.  (Of course, to be perfectly honest with myself I acknowledge that I might be singing a different tune if this were St. John Paul II or Benedict and not Francis.)  For a third, as an ordinary every-Sunday foot soldier, I get the same feeling about the outpouring of enthusiasm associated with the visit as I do about the crowds who show up only for Christmas and Easter services.

♦   Fingers crossed, please:  Eldest Gel fired off her early-decision application to Sweet Briar College last evening.  We should get a yea or nay within two weeks or so.  I don’t know why they wouldn’t accept her (good ACT’s, steadily rising high school GPA and a legacy several times over, plus the school really needs to grow its student body again so it’s a buyer’s market), but the process is unnerving just the same.

♦   Watching the con-trails of jets cruising overhead this morning, I got wondering about calculating their distances from my porch.  If I assume a plane is at an altitude of, say, six miles and accurately measure the angle of the hypotenuse from my point of observation, using right triangle geometry trig I ought to be able to calculate the length of that hypotenuse, yes?  Or no?

♦   Well, at six and a half games behind with only about ten days left in the season, I just don’t think my beloved Nats are going to catch the Mets.  Ah, well.  Is it possible that the “Back To The Future, Part 2” prophesy will be fulfilled by the Cubbies taking it all this year?  If they make the post-season, I will certainly root for them.

Anyhoo, time for moar coffee.

UPDATE:  A glass of wine with Don for putting me some stuff-you-should-have-remembered-from-school knowledge in response to the cruising jet question.  All I can say is that it’s been a very long time since I did any trig.

Anyhoo, out of curiosity, I ran a couple calculations, assuming a jet to be cruising at an altitude of 37,000 ft, or 7 miles just to make it simpler.  An observed angle of 35 degrees produces a line between my eye and the plane of just over 12 1/4 miles.  An observed angle of 20 degrees gives a distance of just over 20 1/2 miles.

The thing is, these results are mighty near what I would have guessed just eyeballing it.  Pretty cool.

(And yes, you can see a jet at 20 miles.  Or rather, at certain times of day around dawn and dusk, you can see sunlight reflecting off of them sometimes.)

Ol’ Robbo was looking forward eagerly to picking up his brand new trial set of disposable soft contacts today.  (I’ve been wearing hard, gas-permiables for over 35 years now and thought I’d try a change.)

Trouble was that once I got them in my eyes, although they felt mighty comfortable, I couldn’t see much of anything.

The optician who gave me the prescription last week was not my usual, but I had the latter today for testing them out.  He kept looking at her notes and muttering to himself as he flipped diagnostic lenses around, every now and then saying, “I’m just trying to get into her thought process here.”


Bottom line is that he wouldn’t let me leave with the lenses but instead is ordering up a different prescription which we’ll try next week when they get in.

I wonder if he’s going to say anything to her.  He certainly didn’t seem pleased with her work.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with His Holiness’s impending descent on Dee Cee and the mayhem it’s going to cause, ol’ Robbo decided that the prudent course would be to eat some leave time and stay out of the way until the whole thing has all blown over.  (I was strolling around the Mall at lunch yesterday and what with all the construction going on along the parade route – fences, marquees, port-o-johns and the grass being boarded over – it looked like a Capital Fourth on steroids.)  This will probably come back to bite me when the weather turns icy and snowy, but so be it.

Anyhoo, I recently made a swoop through the devil’s website and picked up a few items which may be of interest to friends of the decanter.

GBaUBofBFirst, I finally got around to bagging a couple of DVD’s that I’ve been meaning to get, namely the “Band of Brothers” box set and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”  Of the former, I will state once again that Damian Lewis looks like a constipated cat and that David Schwimmer, poor man, is doomed to be Ross from “Friends” no matter where he goes or what he does.  Of the latter, I think I’m only repeating the obvious in that it’s the best of Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy.  I do have one question that has always bugged me, however:  When Tuco shoots the bad guy from the tub, Clint hears the shot and says to the kitten, “Every gun has its own tune”,  meaning that he recognizes the sound and thus knows Tuco is around and can use him to help kybosh Angel Eyes’ gang who are holding Clint.  Well, that wasn’t the same pistol that Tuco had been using the last time Clint was with him, now was it.  So why would he say that?

A small point, but it bugs me.

GabrieliSecond, a couple of CD’s.  The local classickal station keeps a couple of canzons by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612) in its rotation, so I finally broke down and bought the disc from which they came, “Music of Gabrieli and His Contemporaries“.  Said contemporaries (none of whom I know) include Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634), Gabriel Diaz (1590-1638) and Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517).  The first three produced great, glorious, triumphal antiphone – Spain and Italy in all their Renaissance powerhouse.  The latter – who was obviously earlier – at least here seems much more contemplative and melancholy, traits which I associate with what little Late Medieval musick I have come across.   These pieces are all done by the Empire Brass on modern instruments which, I think, is acceptable, but I should like to hear them on period instruments, too.  The voice here covered by the trumpet would be played on the cornetto, a curved piece of wood that looks rayther like a gazelle’s horn.  I have a DVD of Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo” in which cornetti are used and they are quite supple.

Beethoven EroicaI also picked up a copy of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica”, performed by the Orechestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under the direction of Sir John Elliot Full-of-Himself.  I’ve actually got the box set of Beethoven’s symphonies by this lot, but the CD of the Eroica mysteriously vanished.  Perhaps it was the mice.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I like the story that ol’ Ludwig Van was set on dedicating this piece to Napoleon until he finally realized what a monster That Man actually was and became so enraged that he nearly tore the work up.  Ass.  By the way, Peter Schickele, in the guise of P.D.Q. Bach, did a very funny parody of the 4th movement from this piece in his “Preachers of Crimetheus” which you can find on his album, “1712 Overture and Other Musical Assaults“.

Sheed MoLSheed TheologyFinally, although I already have them but because the Pope is in town and a lot of people are saying a lot of very foolish, ignorant things about him and about Catholicism, let me again recommend a couple of books by Frank Sheed:  A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith and Theology For Beginners.  These were recommended to me by a seminarian doing a turn at my church this past summah and I can’t begin to tell you how much I have profited by them.  Straightforward, tightly reasoned and accessible to anyone who has the least talent for comprehension and willingness to make any kind of effort to actually understand what they are talking about.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest gel is taking a political science class this fall and has started coming home regularly fuming over the arguments in which she finds herself.

The latest was a tangle with a classmate who is a big Bernie Sanders fan because she thinks free health care and free education are a good idea.

“Look,” the gel said, “When goods and services have to be provided, there’s no such thing as free! Somebody is going to have to pay for it! Understand? No. Such. Thing. As. Free.

“Oh, yeah,” the classmate apparently responded, “Well you like the “Free Market”, don’t you? What about that?”

The gel was gobsmacked at this level of ignorance.

One of her favorite quotes these days is from George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

UPDATE:  Mrs. Robbo and I went to a school meeting last evening at which a so-called professional educator, a man who spent fifteen minutes gassing on about his own education in a British prep school and his love of history, made the extraordinary claim that Boadicea was a Queen of the Saxons.  It was all ol’ Robbo could do to resist jumping up and yelling, “Didn’t you learn your Tacitus? She was Queen of the Iceni!  A tribe of Britons wiped out 350 years before any Saxon set foot on the island! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo remarked t’other day about how he was looking forward to the arrival of autumn.  Well, I’m seeing more and more signs of it.

First, I noticed today that the bright yellow goldfinch coloring seems to be fading somewhat.

Second, I noticed that the stink bugs are suddenly back with a vengeance.  Judging from the number of them crawling all over the porch screens today, I think it’s going to be a bumper year.

Third, while watching the singleton hummingbird that has visited our feeder since I put it up in mid-summer, I got wondering when she is going to vanish.  (They winter along the Gulf, you know.)  Given how many calories they burn and how often they need to refuel, how the heck to they manage such distances?  What’s the range of a hummer on a single fueling?   How do they manage to find weigh stations along their path?  How long does the migration take?

Kinda mind-boggling when you start to contemplate it.  And heck, ol’ Robbo is in the Mid-Atlantic.  The hummers are still loitering around even at Sistah’s place up ta Maine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, which ol’ Robbo shamelessly shamefully missed because he was too caught up in watching Star Trek: TOS DVDs to have any energy left to post about it.  Thus, I give you this a day late:

Curiously, I had the movie with which this piece is associated in my Netflix queue, and had thought it would arrive right around the appropriate date for viewing.  However, when I checked said queue this weekend, I discovered that my entire remaining  list had been wiped clean for some reason.  Go figure.  Personally, I blame Chinese Intelligence.

Anyhoo, I can’t let a belated celebration of Battle of Britain Day go by without reposting one of my favorite YooToob vids:

And not to start a fight, but I’m more of a fan of the Hawker Hurricane than I am of the Supermarine Spitfire.


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