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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

– – Luke 2: 8-14

To my little circle of fellow port-swillers, here’s a bumper of cheer to all of you:  May your Christmas be full of peace and joy and may your New Year be one of hope and happiness!

God bless you all!!



P.S. TPSAYE will return to regular posting after the holidays, once we wake up from our post-roast beef coma.

Sorry for the lack of posting, friends.

While last week’s blizzard did not cause me too many problems other than delaying my flight back from Iowa by a couple hours Friday evening, Snow Miser nonetheless caught up with us by causing the Robbo Family furnace to give up the Ghost yesterday morning.  Of course the replacement of the part that went has to be ordered, and of course it’s going to be a few days before they can get out and install it.  It is about 25 degrees outside right now and not much better inside.

Given that we were planning to set out for Florida for Christmas tomorrow anyway, we decided we would leave a day early and spend an extra night on the road.  It is my sincerest wish, having been plunged into the depths of winter the past four or five days, to come back after the New Year with a sunburn.

Anyhoo, we’re off in a little while and I doubt very seriously if I’ll be able to either read or write any posties until we return.  Stay tuned though, my fellow port swillers, because I have much to tell you that I believe you will find very amusing indeed.

winter I’m off for the Nation’s Heartland again in the morning, not getting back until latish Friday evening.

While the weather appears for the most part likely to cooperate, Thursday promises to be a beast, as I’ve got to drive a couple hours in each direction in what is currently forecast as a mixture of sleet and ice pellets.   Fun, fun, fun.

The upside of all this is that it is making our departure for Florida next Tuesday for the hols all the  more appealing.


Alas, although I will be travelling through both Detroit and Minneapolis on this particular trip, home cities to some of my favorite bloggers, I will only be in their respective airports long enough to hop connecting flights and thus cannot offer to meet up.  Ay, me.  So near and yet so far.

Anyhoo, I’ll be away for a few days but will be back in time to post a suitable Christmas greeting. 


Following up (sort of) on my barbarian dream post below, one word says it all: Steyn

[T]here remain a handful of us who think “the war” was not entirely a construct of Rove-Cheney’s dark imagination, and valiantly tootle around town with our “FEAR, NOT HOPE” bumper stickers. Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute had a grim piece in The Wall Street Journal the other day positing an Iranian-directed freighter somewhere off America’s shores capable of firing a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile that explodes in space over Chicago:

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century.

If Brian Kennedy were to switch it from an Iranian freighter to an Iranian freighter secretly controlled by a Halliburton subsidiary, he might have a scenario he could pitch to Paramount. But he’s got a tougher job pitching it to America. This is the Katrina nation: Our inclination is to ignore the warnings, wait for it to happen, and then blame the government for not doing more. That last part will prove a little more difficult after an EMP attack. I doubt there’ll be a blue-ribbon EMP Commission for Lee Hamilton to serve on, or much of a mass media for him to be interviewed by Larry King and Diane Sawyer on. “An EMP attack is not one from which America could recover as we did after Pearl Harbor,” writes Mr Kennedy. “Such an attack might mean the end of the United States and most likely the Free World.”

Are there really people out there who want to do that? End the entire Free World? The very term sounds faintly cobwebbed. When nukes were confined to five reasonably sane great powers, the left couldn’t get enough of Armageddon: There were movies, novels, plays, even children’s books about the day after, and the long nuclear winter. When it was crazies like Reagan and Thatcher with their fingers on the buttons, the liberal imagination feasted on imminent nuclear immolation. Now it’s Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il and who knows who else with their fingers on the buttons, and nobody cares: What’s the big deal?

Go read the rest.  And then get over to Costco and buy your Emergency Food Supply bucket.

I had a dream about Boadicea and the Iceni Revolt last evening, which in and of itself was interesting, but was made more so by the fact that instead of being set in East Anglia around 61 A.D., I watched it taking place along the Leesburg Pike west of Dee Cee in current times.  The Britons were all in blue and carried bows and spears while the Romans were in standard Legionary kit, but there were cars all over the place and the buildings were quite recognizable.  I distinctly recollect seeing somebody in a white Rolls cheering on the Iceni.

In my dream, a Roman Legion was posted somewhere in the vicinity of Ashburn, Virginia, with lines of communication running back towards Tyson’s Corner.  But the Roman commander had been slack about guarding this route and I watched the Britons sneaking up on a handful of bored pickets in the neighborhood of Dranesville.   Their plan – known to me – was to destroy the Roman line of communication, surround the Legion and take it by surprise.

I woke up before the dream ended so I don’t know how it would have come out.  My sympathies were with the Romans and I remember thinking that their commander had been an ass but that if they kept their heads and did not panic, they would be able to recover from the shock and eventually master the situation.

Make of that what you will.

I got a near-hysterical phone call from the ten year old a little while ago.  While normally a whiz in math, she had got sloppy on her most recent quiz – forgetting to simplify her fractional multiplication answers – and had been dinged good and hard for it by her teacher.  She is now in anguish because she thinks she’s blown an “A” for the grading period.  (FWIW, I find this hard to believe, given the rest of her work.)

My reaction? A calm, “Well, now.  Bet you won’t make that mistake again, will you.”

Good ol’ Dad.

I think the gel had some vague notion that we could be persuaded to step in and try to bail her out, but I made abundantly clear to her that we were not going to interfere when her bad grade was simply the result of her own carelessness.  In fact, I even managed to slip in the old expression about the burned hand teaching best.

Indeed,  upon further consideration of the matter I am almost rayther glad she got dinged.  In the long run, it’s not going to make any real difference as to whether she gets into Harvard Med or not, but it will certainly teach her a valuable lesson about personal responsibility.

Once I got the gel to calm down and to admit that her grade was a problem of her own making, I then suggested that she take a hot bath and go lie down with a nice book.

Which in my experience, is good medicine for any ill.

UPDATE: I spoke with the gel again when I got home.  I assured her that while I thought it too bad that she should blow her quiz in such a foolish way, I wasn’t mad at her because I could see that she was mad at herself.  This, I said, showed me that she was learning to take responsibility for things, which is good.

Oh, and it turns out that there is an opportunity to retake the test later this week.

Words fail me.

Words. Fail. Me.

A glass of wine with Drew of the Holy Whapping.

No one topic seems to be coalescing in Robbo’s brain today, so instead I am falling back on the time-honored quick thoughts post:

–  Went to see the eight year old’s performance in The Nutcracker on Ice last evening.  (She was one of the Arabian dancers.)  All in all, considering that it was a program of about 60 little girls aged 5 through about 14, it really wasn’t too bad.  I must say, though, that when you stop thinking of the musick as an accompaniment for the dancing and start listening to it for itself, you quickly realize what a rotten composer Tchaikovsky really was.

– In connection with the skating performance, the gels were commanded to be at the rink a full hour before show time.  Because seating there is extremely limited, the parents who brought the kids (at least the veterans among them) then proceeded to go to the bleachers and stake out large claims on behalf of all the sisters, cousins and aunts who came later to watch the performance.   This same kind of thing happens in Church when the Christmas and Easter crowd shows up and it drives me to distraction.  When I become emperor of the world, such practice will constitute a flogging offense.

–  Beethoven’s birthday happens to be tomorrow and, in celebration, the local classickal station has been going great guns with his musick all weekend.   Which prompts me to say this:  I think the Chorale from his 9th Symphony is one of the most over-rated pieces of musick in the entire canon.   Fact is that Beethoven really couldn’t write for voice.   There.  I said it.

–  I have to travel out to the Midwest again this week.  I’d half been hoping that a blizzard would come through and cancel the trip, as I don’t really want to go.  No such luck, however – it’s just going to be damned cold.

– I am increasingly annoyed by the second offering at my church’s Mass.  Is this a universal practice?  It strikes me that when one has just received the Host, one ought to be left to contemplate things in peace and not have a basket shoved in one’s face.  Most distracting.

–  Oh, speaking of churches, the eight year old insisted on bringing along a library book to RFEC yesterday – she gets bored with the sermons.  The book, with which she is currently fascinated, is a children’s history of the sinking of the Titanic.   Talk about your metaphor crying out for attention!  My only fear was that somebody else might spot the book and surmise that I put the gel up to it.

– Sooper-Sekret Message to Mr. FLG:  I used the line on my friend that you recommended.  She slapped me and asked how dare I be so insensitive about South American fauna.  This is your idea of teh funny?

– I started to watch a 1968 Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last evening.  Directed by Peter Hall, it featured a heavyweight cast that included Ian Richardson as Oberon, Ian Holm as Puck, a mostly naked Judi Dench as Titania, plus Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg as Hermia and Helena, respectively.  Alas, the film looked like it was done one weekend by a bunch of hippies with somebody’s home movie camera (which it probably was) because the production values are just awful.   I dozed off just after Lysander called Hermia an acorn and probably won’t bother with the rest.   Life’s too short.  Funnily, while I have seen several good stage productions of AMSND (and starred in a so-so one myself), I’ve never yet seen a good film treatment.  I often wonder why.  (And don’t recommend that one with Kevin Kline as Bottom because it’s rubbish.)

Many thanks to our Maximum LeaderMr. & Mrs. FLG and Buckethead for a very pleasant evening’s non-virtual reality meeting.   (And special thankts to Mrs. FLG, who is that jewel of the blogsphere, a tolerant, nay – even indulgent, spouse.)

The food and drink flowed like milk and honey, while the conversation was both sparkling and informative.  Among other things, I learned that my utter lack of preparation means that I will be complete toast when the mutant zombies launch their inevitable attack. 

Oh, well.  If nothing else, perhaps I can at least sacrifice myself so that somebody else has a chance to make for safety.  Who knows – maybe there’s a martyrdom in it for me.  How does “St. Robbo of the Eaten Brains” sound?

By the way, to the drunk hockey fan (one among legion) who asked me half a dozen times on the Metro ride home, “Dude – shish Orange Line? Shish shtopt Vienna?”  – I hope you made it home in one piece, buddy.

Don raises a question concerning the interests of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art that I pass on to the Committee with this cover note:

Gentlemen, if we don’t, we certainly ought to.


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December 2008