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The comment?  Heh.


Weeeyall,  the Eldest Gel got her learner’s permit this afternoon.  It seems she celebrated by driving Mrs. R around the parking lot of Trans-Madison High for an hour or so in the Juggernaut® v.2.

I sense this is one of those epochal moments that will forever shift what one might call the Port Swiller Family calculus, if you know what I mean.

Later this afternoon, teh gel said she wants me to teach her how to drive my Wrangler.

I opined that it’s probably better for her to learn the basic feel of driving on an automatic first and that we can upgrade to stick once she’s got a bit of experience.

She pointed out that I learned how to drive a stick first and that I did so when I was twelve. (Me and my reminiscences!)

I noted that I had learned on remote ranch roads of dirt and crushed rock with no other traffic than a few armadillos and that she will have her hands full dealing with crazy NoVA traffic as it is without the added distraction of clutch and stick.

She countered that teh Juggernaut®  v.2 is way too big a beast for her to start out on.

I said deal with it.

As a matter of fact, I’ve a feeling we’re going to be shopping for used mini-SUV’s such as a Honda CRV sooner rayther than later.   When discussing this possibility with teh gel, she was wonderfully startled to learn that we considered whatever wheels she eventually gets to be a privilege rayther than a right, and that we will not hesitate to confiscate the keys whenever we feel it to be appropriate or necessary.

Leverage, baybee…..


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In what may be a compositional first here, ol’ Robbo is writing the first draft of this post by hand as he sits in the sports bar in Concourse E of the Charlotte airport on Friday afternoon, loitering around waiting for his flight home.  [Ed. note – Updates and commentary on this draft will appear throughout thusly.]  

On the one hand, a cacophony of mindless thump-thumpa is breaking from the speakers directly over my head.  (Why on earth would anybody think people would want to get blasted like this in an airport, where they’re most likely already thoroughly browned off?)  On the other, I’ve got a nice G&T in front of me which I’m nursing for all its worth, much to the annoyance of the waitpersonserver guy hovering in the middle distance (who I’ll bet went with the most expensive brand of gin because I didn’t specify otherwise.) [Update:  He didn’t, in fact.]  So here we are.

This may sound terribly pretentious of me (moi?) but it’s nonetheless true:  I have very little regular personal contact with mass culture – including the MSM – except when I’m on one of these little biznay jaunts.  So every time I find myself with no choice but to read Useless Today or watch CNN, I am gob-smacked anew at the pablum with which they saturate print and airwaves  If Gerber were to develop a line of easy-to-digest propaganda, this is what it would look and sound like.  And I am downright terrified by the idea that this is where most people voters get their so-called information.

Speaking of which, having nothing better to do last evening after finishing my prep for today’s work (I forgot my book this trip – Waugh’s Black Mischief; probably just as well not to be caught in public with it), I found myself flopped on my hotel bed staring at the Weather Channel’s Scary Stormz Special.  TWC recently resolved a contract dispute with one of their main carriers (DirecTV, I believe) by promising, among other things, to cut back on the “reality” shows that have become such a major part of their prime-time line up and focusing, instead, on …you know…weather.  I dunno if this was some kind of subversive payback, but I sat through an hour of Jim “Mimbo” Cantore hovering over his Scary Stormz radar and sounding the alarum for one midwestern county after another in painstaking repetition and detail.  After a while, it became clear that things were fast settling down, but ol’ Jim kept plugging away nonetheless.  “Look out, St. Louis, rain is coming for ye! RAINNNN!!!”  The message from TWC seemed to be, “Okay, you want weather?  We got your weather right here, pal!”  [By the bye, anyone remember that TWC reporter from back in the 90’s who often appeared to be several fathoms below the surface when he did his show?  I can’t think of his name now, but he was a lot more entertaining than Cantore.]

Oh, and for some reason, even though I was camped in the wilds of the Carolinas, the locals on the 8’s kept running current conditions and forecast for Southern California.  Carolina…California..  Whatevs.  (Actually, there was a country song a few years back called “Heads, Carolina – Tails, California”.  Jo Dee Messina, I think?)

Speaking of hotels, it really really bothers me that Marriott considers it necessary to attach printed instructions to the shower knob.  (Seriously: 1) Pull handle; 2) Point to hot or cold as desired.)  My guess would be that if someone is too dense to figure out the workings themselves, the odds that such instructions are going to be of any use to them are pretty slim.

Ain’t I awful.  Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…..

Well, my flights out and back this time involve Dulles instead of National, much to my chagrin.  (US Air used to have numerous Airbus A320 runs between National and Charlotte, but I think they lost a bunch of routes as part of the big recent merger with American.  In any event, the only flights seemingly available now are a bunch of extremely grungy little Canadair regional jets staffed with the dregs.  Downbound the other day, the cabin was served by two of the most emaciated “stewards” I have ever seen in my life.  Any friends of the decanter old and nerdy enough to remember the short-lived teevee series from the late 70’s “Flying High”?  Connie Sellecca, you know.  I’m afraid those days are long gone, my friends.  [Coming back, one of the “lady”  flight attendants had shoulders like a linebacker, not that there’s anything wrong with that.]

Aaaaaanyway, I’ve seen my share of airports over the last few years and I must say that Dulles is the ugliest and most impersonal of them all by a very wide margin.  It’s metastasized out of all recognition from what it used to be, and has lost any positive character it ever had.  I always feel like I’m going in and out of Sing-Sing.  Oh, and message to WMATA:  If you think that extending the metro all the way to Dulles from downtown Dee Cee is a potential money-maker, I’ve got some shares in a turnkey jackalope ranching operation I’d like to discuss with you.

Well, anyhoo, it’ll be good to get home, even though by the time I actually type this up and you read it, it’ll be after the fact.  [As it happens, my homecoming coincided with not one but two of the port swiller loos losing battles with certain unnamed persons who don’t seem to understand that there are certain, em, hygienic products that CANNOT be flushed.  Grrrrrrrr…..]

Speaking of hearth and home, it appears this weekend is Mother’s Day.  How do I know?  Because I got an email from Mrs. R this morning thanking me for the Mother’s Day flowers I sent her.   Considering I hadn’t done anything of the sort, I was a bit apprehensive about what this might mean.  A hint?  A sneaky rival?  The gels?  (Naw, not the gels.)  For one wild instant, I considered a bluffing response, but at the last second common sense prevailed and I manfully admitted I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turns out, my candor was rewarded:  She admitted that she had, in fact, just bought a large rose bush at the farmer’s market, that she far, far preferred it to a bunch of cut flowers and that my “gift” to her was to plant it for her this weekend.   So Mrs. R gets a (hopefully) long-term present and ol’ Robbo gets to thumb his nose at the FTD/Zales/Hallmark Sentimentality-Industrial Complex Shakedown Racket.

Everybody wins.  [As a matter of fact, we find the thing looks very nice in a pot at the top of the stairs to the porch.  Additionally, there is virtually no chance the damned deer will climb the stairs to get at it.]

Whelp, I suppose I had ought to shuffle off and find my gate.  It’s been surprisingly easy to slap down these thoughts, despite the thump-thumpa.  The G&T (okay, it was a double) certainly helps.  I could get used to this Writer’s Life.  (In fact, the only literary ambition I’ve ever held was to somehow become my generation’s Tom Wolfe.)  I only hope I can read my scrawlings when I come to transcribe my rambling into pixelated form.  [Indeed, I can quite easily.  My handwriting here seems to be much better than it usually is down the office.]

Update:  Sitting at the gate, I’m looking at a security door with a sign on it reading, “DOOR IS ALARMED”.  This amuses me.  Door (in C3PO voice): “Oh, dear.  Oh, dear.  What is all this? You’re not authorized?  Surely, you’re not going to open me?  This is all R-2’s fault!  Somebody help me! Pleeease!!!


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May 2014