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Well, my fellow port-swillers, in the fairly likely event that ol’ Robbo cannot get his mitts on Mrs. R’s laptop over the weekend, this’ll be it for posties for a bit.  I’ll be on biznay travel all next week out in the Heartland, fetching up in the end, as mentioned below, at Chez Peperium. Fortunately, it looks very much as if I’m not going to get caught in a blizzard this time – my first winter travel out there when that hasn’t been the case in three years.   Thank yew, Global Warming!

Once back, I have the endoscopy the following Monday.  In the meantime, we have a pair of at home birthday parties (the middle and youngest gels turn, respectively, twelve and ten next week), the beginning of the middle gel’s choir boot camp, the SSAT’s, softball registration, swim meets, CYO basketball……and somebody is going to have to get the Christmas Tree down, too.

So there it is.   One-armed paper hangers with the hives ain’t in it.

However, I promise to tell you all about my adventures, including whether Mrs. P tries to make me eat cabbage, when I get back.

In the meantime, as usual, the port stands at your elbow, the walnuts are in the bowl and the Stilton is over on the sideboard.  Feel free to linger over them as much as you like.



Dogs have the social skills of small children.

Dogs have similar social skills to two-year-old children and are more likely to listen if owners look them in eye, scientists have found

The findings might help to explain why so many people treat their pets like their children.

Researchers found dogs’ receptivity to human communication is surprisingly similar to the receptivity of very young children.

József Topál, of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said: “Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a six-month to two-year-old child in many respects.”

I think I would have put it the other way round.


Not so long ago, ol’ Robbo started a new game to amuse himself in the midst of his family bosom by subtly changing the way he speaks.

One way I’ve done this is by altering word pronunciations.  Por ejemplo, I almost never simply say “yes” anymore.  Instead, it’s usually “yers” (after Lord Uffenham in Wodehouse’s Money in the Bank), or “yaaas” (in mimickry of the youngest gel’s flattened “a” when she calls me “Daaad”, or perhaps “ho, yus” (a la the Monty Python generic policeman).

I’ve also taken to substituting words and phrases.  For instance, the cats are no longer “cats”.  Instead, they are “cat-type animals”.  Also, the “kitchen counter” has become the “food-preparation surface”, often pronounced through clenched teeth, as in “Please remove these papers/ this laundry/ this cat-type animal from the food preparation surface, thank you”.

You get the idea.

The beauty of this game is its unlimited potential.

The downside is that the family seems to think I’m strange getting stranger.


Prime Minister Cameron airs a sentiment that has been floating about in the back of my own mind:

David Cameron has said he wishes the film The Iron Lady – about Baroness Thatcher – had been made “another day”.

The prime minister said the portrayal of his predecessor by Meryl Streep was “a fantastic piece of acting”, but questioned the timing of the film.

He told the BBC it was “more about ageing and elements of dementia rather than about an amazing prime minister”.

Former Conservative minister Lord Hurd has called the film “ghoulish”, but its director has defended her work.

The film is set in the present – when the former prime minister is portrayed as mentally and physically frail – but contains flashbacks to her days in office.

The fact that Baroness Thatcher is still alive and that she is being portrayed on screen as frail and border-line demented has been giving me a mild case of the creeps since I first heard about the film.  At the very least, I find the timing and the plot set up – a series of flashbacks from the present – to be of dubious taste.  I think I would feel quite uncomfortable watching such a thing.


A conversation between Self and the eldest gel last evening:

“How are you feeling, sweetie?”

“Urg.  Still pretty bad.”

“Well, what do you think we should do about school tomorrow?”

“Oh, I’m going back to school no matter what.  I’ve got to get that test done.  And if I still feel bad by the end of the day, why, I’ll just rest over the weekend.”

“Okay, who are you really and what have you done with my daughter?”


UPDATE:  I learn from Mrs. R that the gel took her test, but then her school made her go home.  Good enough – I’m still going to let her watch The Comancheros with me tonight if she wants.  At the same time, the youngest gel reported sick from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.  Heigh-ho.  I’m supposed to get these two out of the house tomorrow evening in order to allow the middle gel to have a birthday party with her little friends, but it might be easier just to put them to bed.


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January 2012