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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

AlbrechtsbergerThe setting of the Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form today at ol’ Robbo’s church was by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809).  I’d never heard any of his musick before, but I found myself smiling in recognition of the name because Albrechtsberger was one of three of Beethoven’s teachers with whom Lucy attempts to spike Schroeder in a “Peanuts” strip I remember from my misspent yoot.  (Salieri was another.  I can’t recall the third for certain but it might have been Franz Anton Hoffmeister.)

This just goes to show that there’s no such thing as “useless” trivia and that one never knows when some obscure factoid lodged in one’s braims at random might not come back to serve a purpose some day.

The setting itself (in D Major) was perfectly fine, by the bye, although I do not recall a Gloria in which the text was run through so very quickly.

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool and cloudy Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor with rain threatening (or shall I say teasing) over the next few days.  Good time to sit out on the porch with coffee and dog.

Going back to work yesterday after taking off the previous three was…odd.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the President of China was going to be in town.  It was a bit disconcerting to see the ChiCom flag all over the place and I got caught in the gridlock caused by the departure of his motorcade on my drive home.

Nonetheless, a good day.  Mrs. R and the Eldest went down to Sweet Briar overnight to attend Founder’s Day, the Middle Gel got asked to the upcoming prom Homecoming and the Youngest landed a part in her school play.

As for the announcement of the resignation of Weepin’ John Boner from the House, I take that as a symbolic victory rayther than a substantive one, since I’m sure the GOPe will simply select another RINO squish to take his place, but it was still a Good Thing.  So when does Bitch McConnell get his?  And the reaction from a number of GOP legislators – about those mean old Tea Party whacko-birds getting uppity – ought to make it abundantly clear to anyone who hasn’t figured it out by now that the GOPe is not an opposition party but a collaborationist one and that the real political fault line here is not so much liberals vs. conservatives as insiders vs. outsiders.  Bad cess on the lot o’ them.

UPDATE:  New contacts are in and they’re fabulous, although it’s going to take me a while to get used to putting them in and getting them out, especially the latter.  (Hard lens removal is easy-peasy since all you have to do is stretch your eyelids to pop ’em out.  This putting your fingers on your eyeballs and scrunching the lenses up biznay will be a bit trickier, especially when ol’ Robbo is, shall we say, “tired”.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, ol’ Robbo finds himself knocking about Port Swiller Manor for the third day, quietly waiting for Pope Francis to wrap things up downtown and head north.

♦   Frankly, I’ve not paid the least attention to the coverage of events so far.  For one thing, I absolutely refuse to let the media (mainstream OR social) tell me what I ought to make of it all.  For another, I just don’t cotton to anything that smacks of celebrity hype.  (Of course, to be perfectly honest with myself I acknowledge that I might be singing a different tune if this were St. John Paul II or Benedict and not Francis.)  For a third, as an ordinary every-Sunday foot soldier, I get the same feeling about the outpouring of enthusiasm associated with the visit as I do about the crowds who show up only for Christmas and Easter services.

♦   Fingers crossed, please:  Eldest Gel fired off her early-decision application to Sweet Briar College last evening.  We should get a yea or nay within two weeks or so.  I don’t know why they wouldn’t accept her (good ACT’s, steadily rising high school GPA and a legacy several times over, plus the school really needs to grow its student body again so it’s a buyer’s market), but the process is unnerving just the same.

♦   Watching the con-trails of jets cruising overhead this morning, I got wondering about calculating their distances from my porch.  If I assume a plane is at an altitude of, say, six miles and accurately measure the angle of the hypotenuse from my point of observation, using right triangle geometry trig I ought to be able to calculate the length of that hypotenuse, yes?  Or no?

♦   Well, at six and a half games behind with only about ten days left in the season, I just don’t think my beloved Nats are going to catch the Mets.  Ah, well.  Is it possible that the “Back To The Future, Part 2” prophesy will be fulfilled by the Cubbies taking it all this year?  If they make the post-season, I will certainly root for them.

Anyhoo, time for moar coffee.

UPDATE:  A glass of wine with Don for putting me some stuff-you-should-have-remembered-from-school knowledge in response to the cruising jet question.  All I can say is that it’s been a very long time since I did any trig.

Anyhoo, out of curiosity, I ran a couple calculations, assuming a jet to be cruising at an altitude of 37,000 ft, or 7 miles just to make it simpler.  An observed angle of 35 degrees produces a line between my eye and the plane of just over 12 1/4 miles.  An observed angle of 20 degrees gives a distance of just over 20 1/2 miles.

The thing is, these results are mighty near what I would have guessed just eyeballing it.  Pretty cool.

(And yes, you can see a jet at 20 miles.  Or rather, at certain times of day around dawn and dusk, you can see sunlight reflecting off of them sometimes.)

Ol’ Robbo was looking forward eagerly to picking up his brand new trial set of disposable soft contacts today.  (I’ve been wearing hard, gas-permiables for over 35 years now and thought I’d try a change.)

Trouble was that once I got them in my eyes, although they felt mighty comfortable, I couldn’t see much of anything.

The optician who gave me the prescription last week was not my usual, but I had the latter today for testing them out.  He kept looking at her notes and muttering to himself as he flipped diagnostic lenses around, every now and then saying, “I’m just trying to get into her thought process here.”

Deeeeerp!!

Bottom line is that he wouldn’t let me leave with the lenses but instead is ordering up a different prescription which we’ll try next week when they get in.

I wonder if he’s going to say anything to her.  He certainly didn’t seem pleased with her work.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with His Holiness’s impending descent on Dee Cee and the mayhem it’s going to cause, ol’ Robbo decided that the prudent course would be to eat some leave time and stay out of the way until the whole thing has all blown over.  (I was strolling around the Mall at lunch yesterday and what with all the construction going on along the parade route – fences, marquees, port-o-johns and the grass being boarded over – it looked like a Capital Fourth on steroids.)  This will probably come back to bite me when the weather turns icy and snowy, but so be it.

Anyhoo, I recently made a swoop through the devil’s website and picked up a few items which may be of interest to friends of the decanter.

GBaUBofBFirst, I finally got around to bagging a couple of DVD’s that I’ve been meaning to get, namely the “Band of Brothers” box set and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”  Of the former, I will state once again that Damian Lewis looks like a constipated cat and that David Schwimmer, poor man, is doomed to be Ross from “Friends” no matter where he goes or what he does.  Of the latter, I think I’m only repeating the obvious in that it’s the best of Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy.  I do have one question that has always bugged me, however:  When Tuco shoots the bad guy from the tub, Clint hears the shot and says to the kitten, “Every gun has its own tune”,  meaning that he recognizes the sound and thus knows Tuco is around and can use him to help kybosh Angel Eyes’ gang who are holding Clint.  Well, that wasn’t the same pistol that Tuco had been using the last time Clint was with him, now was it.  So why would he say that?

A small point, but it bugs me.

GabrieliSecond, a couple of CD’s.  The local classickal station keeps a couple of canzons by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612) in its rotation, so I finally broke down and bought the disc from which they came, “Music of Gabrieli and His Contemporaries“.  Said contemporaries (none of whom I know) include Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634), Gabriel Diaz (1590-1638) and Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517).  The first three produced great, glorious, triumphal antiphone – Spain and Italy in all their Renaissance powerhouse.  The latter – who was obviously earlier – at least here seems much more contemplative and melancholy, traits which I associate with what little Late Medieval musick I have come across.   These pieces are all done by the Empire Brass on modern instruments which, I think, is acceptable, but I should like to hear them on period instruments, too.  The voice here covered by the trumpet would be played on the cornetto, a curved piece of wood that looks rayther like a gazelle’s horn.  I have a DVD of Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo” in which cornetti are used and they are quite supple.

Beethoven EroicaI also picked up a copy of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica”, performed by the Orechestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under the direction of Sir John Elliot Full-of-Himself.  I’ve actually got the box set of Beethoven’s symphonies by this lot, but the CD of the Eroica mysteriously vanished.  Perhaps it was the mice.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I like the story that ol’ Ludwig Van was set on dedicating this piece to Napoleon until he finally realized what a monster That Man actually was and became so enraged that he nearly tore the work up.  Ass.  By the way, Peter Schickele, in the guise of P.D.Q. Bach, did a very funny parody of the 4th movement from this piece in his “Preachers of Crimetheus” which you can find on his album, “1712 Overture and Other Musical Assaults“.

Sheed MoLSheed TheologyFinally, although I already have them but because the Pope is in town and a lot of people are saying a lot of very foolish, ignorant things about him and about Catholicism, let me again recommend a couple of books by Frank Sheed:  A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith and Theology For Beginners.  These were recommended to me by a seminarian doing a turn at my church this past summah and I can’t begin to tell you how much I have profited by them.  Straightforward, tightly reasoned and accessible to anyone who has the least talent for comprehension and willingness to make any kind of effort to actually understand what they are talking about.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest gel is taking a political science class this fall and has started coming home regularly fuming over the arguments in which she finds herself.

The latest was a tangle with a classmate who is a big Bernie Sanders fan because she thinks free health care and free education are a good idea.

“Look,” the gel said, “When goods and services have to be provided, there’s no such thing as free! Somebody is going to have to pay for it! Understand? No. Such. Thing. As. Free.

“Oh, yeah,” the classmate apparently responded, “Well you like the “Free Market”, don’t you? What about that?”

The gel was gobsmacked at this level of ignorance.

One of her favorite quotes these days is from George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

UPDATE:  Mrs. Robbo and I went to a school meeting last evening at which a so-called professional educator, a man who spent fifteen minutes gassing on about his own education in a British prep school and his love of history, made the extraordinary claim that Boadicea was a Queen of the Saxons.  It was all ol’ Robbo could do to resist jumping up and yelling, “Didn’t you learn your Tacitus? She was Queen of the Iceni!  A tribe of Britons wiped out 350 years before any Saxon set foot on the island! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo remarked t’other day about how he was looking forward to the arrival of autumn.  Well, I’m seeing more and more signs of it.

First, I noticed today that the bright yellow goldfinch coloring seems to be fading somewhat.

Second, I noticed that the stink bugs are suddenly back with a vengeance.  Judging from the number of them crawling all over the porch screens today, I think it’s going to be a bumper year.

Third, while watching the singleton hummingbird that has visited our feeder since I put it up in mid-summer, I got wondering when she is going to vanish.  (They winter along the Gulf, you know.)  Given how many calories they burn and how often they need to refuel, how the heck to they manage such distances?  What’s the range of a hummer on a single fueling?   How do they manage to find weigh stations along their path?  How long does the migration take?

Kinda mind-boggling when you start to contemplate it.  And heck, ol’ Robbo is in the Mid-Atlantic.  The hummers are still loitering around even at Sistah’s place up ta Maine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, which ol’ Robbo shamelessly shamefully missed because he was too caught up in watching Star Trek: TOS DVDs to have any energy left to post about it.  Thus, I give you this a day late:

Curiously, I had the movie with which this piece is associated in my Netflix queue, and had thought it would arrive right around the appropriate date for viewing.  However, when I checked said queue this weekend, I discovered that my entire remaining  list had been wiped clean for some reason.  Go figure.  Personally, I blame Chinese Intelligence.

Anyhoo, I can’t let a belated celebration of Battle of Britain Day go by without reposting one of my favorite YooToob vids:

And not to start a fight, but I’m more of a fan of the Hawker Hurricane than I am of the Supermarine Spitfire.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Following on yesterday’s rains (which see below), the first genuine cool front of fall came through last evening, causing ol’ Robbo to run about this morning opening all the windows and otherwise reveling in teh first taste of cool, crispy goodiness.  According to my porch thermometer, we didn’t clear the 60’s today.

In case you didn’t know, autumn is ol’ Robbo’s very favorite season.  Apart from the change away from the oppressive (although this year, not so much) heat of summah, there is a certain memento mori air about the season that has always struck a chord with me.  I used to wallow in a kind of bittersweet romanticism about it, but in more recent years have come to recognize that this was so much existential wanking.  The goodiness that I appreciate – the crispness of the air, the beautiful colors, the sense of change – are actually mere foretastes of the joy I hope to experience in the next world.  So, really, nothing bitter about it.

fireAnyhoo, it was nice enough that this evening ol’ Robbo, er, fired up the port swiller fire pit so that teh Gels could make themselves some s’mores.  After they had withdrawn, I spent rayther a long while staring into the flames and mulling…well…I confess….what kind of blogpost I could make out of it.

No, really.  Here’s the thing: I love sitting in front of a fire, especially one outside.  I dunno if it’s some kind of Jungian race memory or what, but in such circumstances I feel myself shoulder to shoulder with all Humanity, right back to the time Ug and Nug figured out how to save a bit of burning wood from a lightning-blasted tree and to put it to good use, and forwarding right up through all the ages until, thanks to advanced technology, we cut ourselves off from it.

Kinda gives me the shivers.

Mind you, I certainly appreciate that, thanks to modern technology, I’m not actually compelled to sit around in front of a fire in order to survive.  But, on the other hand, I can’t help thinking that something has been lost, too.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The first genuine rainy day for a while in the port swiller neighborhood gets ol’ Robbo out of having to mow the lawn this morning, so how about a few idle observations?

♦   The kid at the hardware store this morning asked me if I needed help taking a 20 pound bag of bird food out to my car.  I know he was only trying to do his job but my first instinct was to punch him.  Do I look that decrepit before my morning coffee?

♦  As a matter of fact, I think I am getting kinda decrepit.  I crocked my right elbow kayaking on vacation.  That was the last week of July.  It hurts worse now.  Eh.

♦   Can somebody put me some knowledge about why this “deal” with Iran is so “historic”?  From what I understand, they get pretty much everything they want – self-monitoring, a big wodge of cash, etc., while we as a country are cordially invited to go stick our collective head in a pig.  Meanwhile, I gather all the Important People have little side arrangements of their own attached to the thing.  In the real world, that’s not a deal, it’s a sell-out.

♦  And what’s even more worrisome, the GOP-controlled Congress is in on it.  Most non-political junkies don’t know that the Senate adopted a procedural sleight of hand weeks ago making it near impossible for the actual substance of the deal to be voted on this week.  All you’ve heard about over the past couple days is simply an exercise in what Ace calls “Failure Theatre”.

♦  Oh, and while on the topic, let me just again reiterate that immigration without assimilation is invasion.

♦  And then they wonder why Teh Donald’s popularity is surging.

♦   Speaking of failure theatre,  stick a fork in the Nationals’ season because it’s done.  As is, I think, Matt Williams, whose chief flaw is an apparent inability to properly handle a bullpen.  Curiously, as I watched them drop their fourth straight game in a loss against the Fish last evening, all I felt was numbness.

♦   Speaking of handling things, it’s looking more and more like the Pope’s upcoming visit to Dee Cee is going to cause havoc.  We haven’t been told to go ahead and stay home yet, but they already making noise about telecommuting – something I’m not authorized to do because I don’t have an agreement in place.  Wouldn’t be surprised if unscheduled leave and/or closure don’t come into play.

♦   And no, I’ve no interest in trying to go see the parade.  I simply can’t warm up to Papa Franky.  If he isn’t an actual proponent of liberation theology (which, IMHO is nothing more that Marxism in a dog-collar), he sure sounds like one.

Whelp, time to go throw myself in the hammock and listen to the rain.

 

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