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(After a particularly long time spent getting the Family Robbo out of the house)

Self (in frustration):  Why does everything always have to be so bloody complicated?

Middle Gel (brightly):  We’re women.  We’re just made that way!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I mentioned the other day that I had to replace the mailbox at Port Swiller Manor after the local loutish yoots gave it the Louisville Slugger treatment.  Although it was a nuisance, I didn’t really give it all that much thought.

So imagine my surprise when I found the following note in the new box a couple days later:


Of all the officious jackanapery.

Of course, I didn’t put in any new installation.  I switched the old, bashed box with a replacement of exactly the same size and shape.  I mounted it on the same post and same cross-beam that have stood for years without exciting comment or criticism.   I’ve done this three or four times before with nary a peep from anybody.

What I don’t understand is that our regular mail guy postal delivery specialist has always been perfectly sensible and pleasant when I’ve chatted with him.  He would also know perfectly well that I haven’t actually changed anything vis a vis the height and distance from “curb or road edge”.    I suppose he left the note because he was required to by the regs.   It’s a durn good thing we’d never turn such petty bureaucracy loose on something vital like, say, our health care system.  Oh, wait……

Anyhoo, the mail is still being delivered and I’ve heard nothing more about it, so I don’t plan to actually do anything unless the post office starts giving me a hard time.  If so, I plan to take the old box (which I haven’t chucked yet) and stick it back on the post just out of spite.

I don’t recall that I’ve ever had reason to complain about WordPress since arriving here from the wilds of MooNooviana (and before that Blogsplat) many moons ago, but where the heck did my linkie categories suddenly vanish to?

I rely on my familiarity with the layout to make my surfing as efficient as possible.   Take that away and I’m just scrolling helplessly.

Hopefully, by the time you read this post they’ll have come back from whatever corner of the ether where they’re lurking and you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about.


UPDATE:  Oh, good, it seems to have fixed itself.   I find that many such problems simply go away if you ignore them long enough.

A colleague is getting up a lottery pool today ahead of the big $500 mil power-ball drawing tonight.

I don’t usually go in for this sort of thing, but that’s a pretty durn big pot and baby needs tuition payments.   So I thought what the heck.  However, when I went to pull what I thought was the remaining fiver out of the port-swiller wallet, I discovered that the mice gels had been into it already and it was quite empty.


I know it won’t happen, but if the pool does come up with the winning ticket, I’m going to be seriously steamed.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I can’t help wondering:  Why did nobody ever cast Lee Van Cleef in the role of Little Phil Sheridan in the movies?

And if it’s because there wasn’t a movie about Sheridan or at least with Sheridan in it, why wasn’t one written?

Lost opportunity, Hollywood.  Lost opportunity.

This thought occurred to me because I’ve started in on Sheridan’s memoirs.   From what I’ve read so far (I’m up to news of Fort Sumter reaching the Oregon coast where Sheridan was stationed), I may have to revise some of my previous views about the man.



(That title ought to drive up the Google hits.)

Teh Capital Weather Gang notes that tonight’s full moon will be the smallest of the year, the moon herself being at apogee.  The CWG also notes that this is the “beaver full moon”.  I’ve never heard of the beaver full moon.  (Note to all you Google-surfers:  stop giggling.)

Anyhoo, according to the post:

The U.S. Naval Observatory’s Geoff Chester offers the reasoning behind the name: “[The] name comes from Native American skylore reminding trappers to set their final traps for the season before the beaver ponds freeze up for the winter,” Chester writes.

Chester notes this moon is sometimes also referred to as the “Frosty Moon.”

Well, okay.  I know that every full moon has all kinds of different names, so why not add this one to the collection.  However, I am startled to realize that I seem to have missed both the harvest moon and the hunter’s moon, my two favorite in the bunch.

Where in Heaven’s name did fall get to so fast?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s Tuesday again, which regular friends of the decanter will know is Robbo’s least-favorite and most uninspiring day of the week.   So I’m afraid I can’t give you anything more than teh random:

♦   I warned y’all just yesterday what an ogre the onslaught of Christmas “musick” was going to make me.  Well, it’s happening faster than I thought, perhaps because I managed to suppress so many horrid memories from last year.  I defy anyone to listen to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” performed on the pan flute and not be overwhelmed with the desire to grab a sledge hammer and head for the radio studio.  Hulk smash!

♦   I don’t know if other sports networks do this, but MASN, the network of Robbo’s beloved Nationals, has been airing reruns of memorable baseball games for some time now.  Once in a while, when I have an idle hour or two on my hands, I’ll tune in.  It’s an odd experience looking backward rayther than forward, but I find myself getting excited even when I know perfectly well the game’s outcome.   I mentioned this to the eldest gel this morning.  Her puzzled reply was, “You watch baseball reruns?”

♦    People who say that baseball is no longer the national pastime are actually saying quite a bit more than they realize.   And it’s not complimentary.

♦    Back in September, I pre-ordered from the devil’s website a copy of John Zmirak’s new book, The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism.   Evidently, there is some kind of production glitch, as the devil has been sending me periodic emails announcing shipping delays.  The latest one seems to require my permission to go ahead with the order when the book becomes available.  It reads, in part,  “If you do not approve this delay by December 17, 2012, we will cancel the item.  However, if the item becomes available before that date, we will automatically ship it to you.   If the option to approve a delay is not available from this link, that means there has been a change in your order and approval is no longer necessary.”   I know this makes perfect sense, but somehow the way it is written makes me a bit dizzy.

♦   Speaking of such things, sparked I suppose by current insanity events, I have felt an increasing urge of late to delve into the writings of Friedrich Hayek.  I see him quoted all the time, but I’ve never sat down and actually read one of his books.   Why on earth would ol’ Robbo voluntarily read an econ book?  Just to keep morale up, y’know?

♦    And speaking of economy, I am of the opinion that leftover strip steak makes a far tastier lunch meat than rib-eye.  I think it refrigerates better.   Why this would be, I couldn’t say, but empirically I notice the difference.

Well, that’s about it for the moment.

UPDATE:  Oh, and in case you were asking yourself, “Self? Is Robbo going to go see The Hobbit or any of its follow-on sequels?”, the answer is no.  Not a cent of my money does Peter Jackson get for the violence he’s done to Middle Earth.  (That’ll learn him!)

UPDATE DUO:  On the other hand, The Hobbit in Latin?  Rem cupiiiiiiiimus!!!

I see where the Professional Hectoring Class has a new scare to monger today:  The dread moonbounce:

Bounce houses, castles, moonwalks and other inflatable bouncers are injuring U.S. children at “alarming” rates, according to a new study.

Months after Pediatricians sounded the alarm on trampoline injuries, a study from the Nov. 26 issue of Pediatrics shows that the number of injuries from bouncy castles and similar party fare has climbed 15-fold since 1995, causing more than 5 injuries per every 100,000 American children.

“The medical and public health community has yet to provide recommendations on the safe use of inflatable bouncers,” study author Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who is also a professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said in a written statement. “The growing epidemic of inflatable bouncer injuries make it clear that it is time to do so.”

Oh. My. God.  5 out of 100K?  That’s a .005% chance that little Geoffrey or Kaitlin is going to get a boo-boo!  How can we call ourselves Americans if we let this wholesale (let’s call it what it is, my friends) child abuse last one single second longer?

It’s obvious that there’s only one course of action.  Bouncy design will be subject to strict DHHS regulation.  Private bouncy rental is to be verboten.  Only approved bouncies located at properly monitored facilities with properly trained supervisory staff will be allowed.  Kids must be padded top to bottom when on the bouncy (a football-style helmet is, of course, de rigueur here) and harnessed to a roof hook that will prevent falling.  Only one child on the bouncy at any one time, with all other potential users kept back at least 50 yards.  No child on a bouncy without first completing a six month safety training and certification process for both the child and at least one “legal guardian”.  (This includes background check and proof of liability and health insurance, and will also involve an administrative licensing fee.)

Oh, and children will not be allowed to actually bounce.  They must instead stand sit very quietly and make no sudden movements.

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

I could insert the obligatory “when I was a kid….” line here, except I don’t want to accidentally inform the Mothe of some damned fool stunt from my misspent yoot about which she doesn’t know already.   I could also note that when the gels were in their moonbounce mania phase, it seemed there was hardly ever a time when one of them didn’t get banged up.  Somehow or other, they always managed to shake it off and plunge back into the fray.  Go figure.

Amusingly, the article actually slips away from orthodoxy a little farther down:

“Because children are the end users and because companies typically do not provide the supervision on rented inflatable bouncers, the burden of safety falls ultimately on the parents’ shoulders,” Dr. Tigran Avoian, an orthopedic surgeon at Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital who was not involved in the research, told HealthDay. He said bouncers can be fun and safe when used properly. “Parents should be familiar with the risks and dangers and should receive proper supervision instruction.”

Parents ought to be the ones responsible for keeping the kiddies’ knocks to a minimum?  What a concept!  No doubt there are memos flying about Fearmonger HQ to the effect of, “Tonight Dr. Avoian sleeps wid’ da fishes.”

Despite my grumbling about the rising tide of commercialism threatening to swamp the season, the Family Robbo actually had a very pleasant Thanksgiving this year.   A few observations:

♦     It’s just about five and a half hours between Port Swiller Manor and my brother’s house.  Because we can’t all agree on anything else, we spent the entire trip there and back in the Honda Juggernaut® listening to Toby Keith’s “Thanksgiving Takeover” on Sirius, which played on continuous loop over the course of the long weekend.   I happen to like Toby Keith, but I don’t like him that much……

♦     My brother had the brilliant idea to unload all the kids at an indoor trampoline park on Friday.  Not only did we get the shank of the afternoon to loll around in peace and quiet digesting the previous evening’s browsing and sluicing, the younglings were positively worn out by the time we picked them up and wonderfully subdued.   Well done!

♦     Among the guests this year was my old father’s first cousin, a childless widow who I only met for the first time about a year and a half ago.  She turns out to be witty, intelligent, well-traveled and absolutely chock-a-block with family history and genealogy.  (No word yet on whether she also has a shoebox full of shares in Australian diamond mines.)  I suspected we might become good friends when we got into a detailed comparison of our drives down.  (She actually doesn’t live very far from us and took the same route.)  I knew we were going to be good friends when I discovered that she listens to the same classickal radio station as I do and also noticed like me that the afternoon host has a habit of sometimes saying “Tchai-kow-sky” instead of “Tchai-kov-sky”.   I mean, peas in a pod, what?

♦    I won’t bore you with all the family stuff (at least for now), but one notable nugget is the fact that my great-great-grandfather’s (the Civil War soldier) in-laws were mill owners who operated a station on the Underground Railroad in southern Ohio.  I think that’s pretty cool.

♦   Speaking of classickal musick, what with the extra week of post-Thanksgiving November and the fact that the local station has already rolled out its Christmas playlist,  ol’ Robbo is going to be reduced to a snarling, spitting wreck by about December 14 or so, after he’s heard “If Bach Had Written ‘Jingle Bells'” or Schubert’s “Ave, Maria” on glass harmonica for the umpteenth time.  Consider yourselves warned.

♦  To those of you scratching your heads about my various musickal gripes and wondering why I don’t just turn the radio off, I can only say What? And spoil my fun?

♦    My brother’s neighbors have a very sweet and playful little spaniel-and-God-knows-what-else mix who my nieces and nephew mind when the neighbors are out of town.  From what I gather, the poor dog doesn’t get much attention, so I always make a point of going and playing with it when we visit.   This was not lost on certain young persons.  Combined with the fact that we all found ourselves watching some national dog show on the teevee in between football games one evening, and you can understand why Robbo found himself confronted with a demand from the gels to know why the heck we didn’t have a dog and could we please get one for Christmas.   (The answer, despite the fact that they’d even researched some local giveaways, was a firm Nyet!  For one thing, it wouldn’t be fair on our elderly cat.  For another, I can’t even get that gang of hooligans to clean up after themselves.  Fat chance they’d step up to take on the responsibility of a dog.  I’ve an idea, though, that I’ve not heard the last of this.)

♦  Charlottesville, Virginny is a heck of a lot easier to navigate when the big Thanksgiving weekend ball game is being played down in Blacksburg.

♦  Before we left home on Thursday, I discovered that the port swiller mailbox had been knocked off its post for about the dozenth time.  I can usually console myself with the thought that it was just an accident – somebody swerving to avoid a deer, a wayward snowplow – but this time it looked as if blunt force had been deliberately applied to the side of the box, judging by the baseball bat-sized dent in it.  Heigh, ho.   Well, I jury-rigged it on Thursday and then put on a new one Saturday after we got home.   (The process of repair lasted well on into dusk, probably not the brightest of ideas but I wanted to get it done.)  Stupid kids –  I suppose booby-trapping the thing would leave me liable for damages if I ever managed to nail one of the little bastards.

♦  And so here we are.  A chance of a bit of snow tonight and tomorrow morning.  Woot!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I trust you all had a pleasant  Thanksgiving?  Good.  Us, too.

That’s assuming, of course, that you actually celebrated “Thanksgiving”.  What with “Black” Thursday, “Black” Friday, “Small Business” Saturday and “Cyber” Monday, one would perhaps be forgiven for forgetting that such a holiday still exists.  It may just be the idlings of a soon-to-be-middle-aged braim,  but ol’ Robbo cannot recall experiencing such an aggressively commercial atmosphere before.   In the past, it seemed that at least some pretense of decorum was maintained.  That appears to have gone by the boards this year.  The new motto for the season may as well be, “Spend, damn you!”

One wonders what’s next.  “Big Ticket”  Tuesday”?  “Cash-n-Carry” Wednesday?  And let us not forget, “Stop Wasting Time At Church Talking To Your ‘Imaginary Friend’ And Get Your Backside To The Mall” Sunday.

Feh.  What with the extra week of post-Thanksgiving November to deal with this year, I’ve an idea it’s going to be an excruciatingly loooooooong season.


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November 2012