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This looks seriously cool, even if it doesn’t feature Helen Hunt in a wet t-shirt and sports bra:

I may just have to take the port swiller family down to the Smithsonian and check it out.

A glass of wine with the Capital Weather Gang.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The cry has no doubt been flying round the clubs of late:  Where’s Robbo?

Well, the fact of the matter is that I’ve been out on another of my little biznay jaunts.  I had meant to let you lot know about it before hand, but technical difficulties over the weekend prevented me from stopping in here.  Now that I’m home again, home again, jiggity-jig, a few highlights (hopefully) of interest:

♦  My Field HQ this time around was in the lovely and talented city of Florence. Alabama, from which base my comings and goings took me numerous times across the waters of the mighty Tennessee River.   Now this may be the single geekiest thing that I have ever admitted here, but nonetheless it is a fact:  I found something genuinely disconcerting in seeing a river rolling obstinately to the northwest when I knew perfectly well that the Gulf of Mexico was only a couple hundred miles due south.   Indeed, on at least one occasion as I crossed, I found myself pointing and yelling, “The ocean’s that way, idjit!”

♦  If you want other drivers to give you a wide berth, I suggest adopting a similar practice.

♦  Speaking of driving, this time around the rental people gave me a Chevy Impala.  The rear-view mirrors on the thing were about the size of postage stamps and, couples with the hunched up trunk, provided damn-all view of the traffic behind me.   I know that watching one’s six while driving does not appeal to most folks these days, but I’m a big proponent of it.  Wish the designers at Chevy were, too.

♦  Also speaking of driving, this trip was the first one I’ve taken without my contacts and instead relying solely on my glasses.  Let’s just say that the fact that it’s easily been a good three or four years since I got my prescription checked was hammered home in no uncertain terms.  We’re talking Squintapalooza.  Had it not been for a last second flicker which caused me to notice the airport exit on the way back, I’d probably be somewhere in West Virginia right about now.

♦  Speaking of the airport, this time around I flew in and out of the lovely and talented Nashville (or “Nayshville, as I like to call it), my usual practice being when practicable to find the closest direct-flight landing spot and driving on from there.   Although I didn’t stop at any of them, it was a goodly historickal treat to go by the battle sites of Nashville, Franklin and Murfreesboro.  It was also goodly to pass by the Jack Daniels distillery, even though bourbon is not really my favorite adult beverage.  Perhaps some day when I’m not so neurotic about getting from A to B in the shortest time, I’ll force myself to detour to such spots rayther than just appreciating them vicariously from their exit ramp signs.

♦  Mention of the Gulf of Mexico above reminds me of working with a local lawyer a number years back down in Mobile.  He referred to it as the “Guff”.  I have thought of it as the Guff myself ever since.

♦  Speaking of working with local lawyers, let me give you an example of the practical use to which my otherwise utterly random collection of trivial knowledge can sometimes be put.   The (potentially) adversarial attorney with whom I had to deal presented, at first, an extremely gruff and forbidding mien that had “Goddam Yankee” stamped all over it.   Somehow in the course of conversation, it came out that he had a son in the band Shenandoah.   As I happened to know something about them, and indeed, even have one of their albums, I was able to pick this up and run with it.  We got on famously after that.  Just goes to show you.

♦  Finally, I should note that in packing for my trip, I inadvertently forgot to bring along a book.  (This is what comes of packing at Oh-dark-thirty Monday morning instead of the night before.)   After a day or so, I found myself practically climbing the walls in withdrawal.  I read the local fish-wrapper and Useless Today front-to-back each day, but that only took about twenty minutes tops.  I studied the tedious local tourist mags in my room.  I flipped through the local yellow pages.  I came perilously close to dipping into the Book of Mormon.  It was agony.  Fortunately, I had remembered to bring along my book of crosswords.  I did a lot of crosswords.

♦  Really finally, a word about those crosswords.  I have an issue of the Dell “Crossword Special” and I must say that I don’t like it very much.   For one thing, some of the clues are just wrong.  A statue in a church, whatever non-conformists might think, is not an “idol”.   Also, I think the editors invent some of their vocabulary.  I’m morally certain that there’s no such word as “solidest”.  Prove it to me and I still wouldn’t believe it.

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