You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2017.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As promised, Ol’ Robbo made himself bring along his laptop on his current biznay trip, and so I am now posting for the very first time here from the comfort of my hotel room.

Ain’t technology wunnerful.

We were chatting with the clerk while we checked in this afternoon.  Without completely giving away my location, this town is right in the bulls-eye for the big solar eclipse that will move across the United States next month.

The usual rate for this place is $91 per night.

Know what they’re charging for that week?

$1100 per night.  And they’re booked solid.

So is everyone else.

Apparently, a lot of locals are also renting out their houses for the event – and charging similarly primo, not to say, ridiculous rates.

The other clerk told us that somebody even called him seven years ago to see if they could book a room that far in advance so as to catch the festivities.  (The answer was no, apparently.)

Who knew a total eclipse was such a thing?

(Apparently, we’ll get about a 75% eclipse in the Port Swiller Manor neighborhood.  That’s plenty for me.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  Ol’ Robbo finds himself lazing on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor this Sabbath, contemplating the cat sleeping opposite me and getting somewhat sleepy myself as a result.  Just a few thoughts to keep the braims cranking over:

♦  First thought is that, considering it’s already mid-July, Ol’ Robbo is really rather lucky to be able to sit out like this in comfort.  We had dinner on the porch last evening too, and it was quite pleasant.  (I’m sure the Meteorological Community will tell me this is all in my own head, 2017 is in fact shaping up to be the Hottest. Summah. EVAH!, and we all know who’s fault that is.)

♦  On travel this past week, Ol’ Robbo walked into a hotel with two of his biznay colleagues and beheld a sign by the registration desk that read, “Welcome, BLM”.  “Black Lives Matter?” I said, “Why would they want rioters?  Oooh, that must be Bureau of Land Management.”  (This was out West.)

My colleagues were……shocked.  Oopsies!

♦  So it seems that the Beeb announced today the 13th Doctor of the long-lived “Doctor Who” series and it’s……a woman.  Middle Gel, who is the big Whovian of Port Swiller Manor, is less than impressed with what she considers to be a pure casting stunt.  If the Gel is any straw in the wind to go by, this won’t end well.  (And lest you think Ol’ Robbo has some kind of problem with the concept of female Time Lords (or, more properly, Time Ladies) in and of themselves, I’ve got two words for you: Lalla Ward. Mmm, mmm, mmm…..)

♦  We had a handyman out yesterday to finally fix up the breakfast room ceiling, in water-stained tatters for months owing to the umpteenth overflow of the gels’ bathroom potty directly above it.  This was a new guy for us, recommended by a friend, and I’m here to tell you that it was a revelation to me.  I expected him to take most of the day banging and stamping about, but he had the whole job done, painted, and cleaned up in two hours flat.  (And he charged about half what our regular people had quoted us.)  I asked him about his speed. “Yeah,” he said, “We get a lot of calls from people having parties that evening and needing things to be fixed fast, so we just sort of developed this technique.”

Impressive.  Most impressive.

♦  Not so impressive was the way the next door neighbor dealt with a 3 to 4 inch diameter branch that had fallen out of one of the maples out front when he was mowing his yard yesterday:  He simply drove right over the damned thing.  Cut it to match-sticks (as it was quite rotten).  Now, Ol’ Robbo is hardly the kind of fellah who wishes ill on anyone, but by all rights this neighbor should have had his blades bent back about 90 degrees from pulling such a silly move.  (He drives over things all the time with impunity.  Why his mower hasn’t died a thousand deaths already, I simply don’t know.)

Whelp, I suppose I should be be-stirring myself, as it’s almost the cocktail hour and this is my last evening of freedom for the next two or three weeks (during which time I probably will post very little, by the bye).  I’ve organized a little family movie night for later – either “Megamind“, which I’ve seen and like a lot, or “Monsters University“, which I haven’t seen but heard good things about.  (And I recall liking the original.)  I’ll let you know later how it all turns out.

UPDATE: Went with “Megamind”.  A good choice, even though Ol’ Robbo doesn’t think much of the cynical tone of the movie or of most of the vocal talent involved.  It’s still pretty entertaining and a good time was had by all.

Oh, and what was really weird? Saying to the Elder Gels just before putting in the DVD, “Oh, by the way, can one of you pick me up at the Metro tomorrow evening? Thanks!”

Yep, I’ma gettin’ old.

Oh, BTW, I determined this evening that I’m going to bring my personal  laptop along on my biznay trip, so hopefully will keep up the blogging.  Just so you know.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those two or three of you who have been following the saga of the aches and pains of Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Jeep Wrangler may be interested to know that I took her into the shop this morning, reporting to the fellahs there that I thought there was a problem in the front end because of jittery steering and a howling noise I thought was coming from the right front wheel.

Whelp, this afternoon, the shop gave me a call:  Nope, they said, nothing wrong with the front end.  They’d taken La Wrangler out for a spin themselves, listened intently to the noise, and diagnosed that a bearing was going, in fact, in the rear differential.  Bottom line? Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

In the immortal words of Tom and Ray, “Aw, Jeez!” **

This evening, I came across this article about rear differential noises.  From my own observations, it seems to fit the case here, at least to the point where I figure the service wallahs aren’t trying to rip me off:

There are various situations which can create rear differential noise. For example, howling of gears is a sure sign of wearing. If you notice that the howling noise only occurs during deceleration, then it is a good indicator that the pinion-bearing preload has loosened.

Howling under acceleration at various speeds, however, indicates that the gears are already worn out or are out of alignment or depth with each other. If rear differential noise occurs while accelerating the car only at a certain speed, it is likely because the gears have become worn due to overloading and lubrication failure. If your gears are newly installed and still create a howling noise, double-check its preload  and make sure that the teeth are properly aligned.

Rumbling and whirring noises at speed over 20 mph, moreover, can be the result of worn carrier bearings. For vehicles with C-clip axles, the rear differential noise may change at different turns. Generally, worn out pinion bearings can create whirring noises at various speeds, be it may during deceleration and/or acceleration. If the pinion bearings are the problem, they create more of a whirring noise than a rumble because it turns several times faster than the carrier assembly. Regular clunking every few feet can also be an indicator of a broken pinion gear and/or chipped and damaged ring gear.

Overly worn out bearings tend to make a howling noise when they do not properly support the gears. Rumbling while turning, on the other hand, is a sign of bad wheel bearings. Clunking and banging noises on the corners can be due to lack of sufficient posi-traction lubrication, broken spider gears, or worn posi-traction or limited-slip clutches.  Broken spider gears, moreover, can also immobilize the differential and create a loud, crunching sound during final departure. If the rear differential noise is characterized by clunking every two or three feet, then there is a great chance that a broken ring gear is the problem with the section with the broken teeth banging or grinding as it tries to engage the pinion.

(Emphasis added.)

It really doesn’t bother me that my own initial suspicion was completely wrong.  (I quizzed the fellah on the front end and, as I say, he insisted everything there was fine.)  After all, Ol’ Robbo has never pretended to have the slightest savvy when it comes to auto mechanics, and besides, noise can be a tricky thing to pin down.

No, what I worry about is that the old girl seems to be starting to have multiple issues all at once.  If she carries on this way and becomes a perpetual money-pit, I fear that Mrs. Robbo is going to demand that I give her up and get a new car.  And here’s the thing: Mrs. R has always hated La Wrangler.  For years now, my sole effective defense of her has been that she’s long paid off, so whatever Mrs. R thinks of her in terms of comfort and, eh, panache, at least she serves the Port Swiller Manor exchequer in a positive way.  Were I to go for another, that shield would collapse completely.

We shall see.

** Ol’ Robbo used to listen to the Tappet Brothers every Saturday morning in the very late 80’s up through the 90’s, frequently spewing coffee through his nose at their wit and wisdom.  Alas, I still remember the point where they got on the anti-SUV “GloBull Warmening is gonna kill us all!!!” bandwagon.  If I recall correctly, their response to families (like my own) who argued that they needed to drive SUV’s because nothing smaller could hold multiple children, their gub’mint mandated car seats, and all their other paraphernalia, was basically, “So don’t have so many children.”  Whelp, have this, boys!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

WHO put the “bop” in the bop-she-bop-she-bop?

WHO put the “ram” in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?

The world wonders.

Ol’ Robbo apologizes.  As mentioned below, I’ve a trial coming up eftsoons.  We’re scheduled to go on up to Maine on hols almost immediately afterwards, in large part to visit the Mothe, whose health has declined rather significantly this year, but there is some small but hideous chance that said trial will interfere with said trip.

I find myself…somewhat stressed by the possibilities of both legal combat and familial disruption, and thus prone to such apparently inane lines of thought.

UPDATE:  As I typed, Middle Gel got home from an evening out with a gentleman friend seeing the latest Spider-Man reboot and going out to dinner.  She mentioned that she had wasabi, which immediately brought to Ol’ Robbo’s mind a Budweiser advertising meme that flared and died before she was even born.  Those of you old enough will recall it, I’m sure:

The rest of you? Lawn. Off.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last fall (I believe), the Family Robbo won a set of primo tickets to a Nationals game from an auction at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method – about seven or eight rows right behind the Nats’ dugout and a parking pass.  Ol’ Robbo was looking mighty forward to going to the game.

Whelp, that game was today.  And it was a sweet, sweet win.

Alas, Ol’ Robbo didn’t wind up going after all.  Because he is head honcho on one side in a trial coming up in a couple weeks with a wicked pre-trial schedule in front of it, he instead found himself spending most of the day moodily pouring over deposition transcripts and other legal falderal.  (And if you don’t hear much from me between now and August, now you know why.)

At least it was a genuinely pleasant day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor – warm, but not too hot, quite dry, and comfortable enough that I could sit out and do my work on the porch.  Also, Middle Gel (who did go to the game, along with Mrs. R and a couple of family friends),  was sweet enough to give me the Nats tee-shirt she snagged when they were being thrown into the stands.

So I got that going for me….

Anyhoo,  a few things:

♦ One break I took was to go to Mass, of course.  We had a guest priest today, a padre from somewhere else in the Diocese.  He mentioned that he had a brother who is a Brother at Clear Creak Abbey out in the Diocese of Tulsa.  Co-incidentally, ever since I swam the Tiber, I have bought rosaries, books, CDs, and calendars from this abbey, but I don’t recall that I have ever explicitly plugged it here.  For those of you who are interested, consider it plugged now.

♦ Another, somewhat more earthy break was to fool with the Port Swiller Manor clothes-dryer, which after 17 years of service suddenly is producing no heat whatsoever, although it still tumbles and blows air.  My suspicion is that we have been less than diligent about clearing out the overflow from the lint trap and that some accumulation of same has probably shorted out the heating element.  (Mrs. R is going to see if we can get this replaced before we go plunking down dosh on a new dryer.)  Anyhoo, this afternoon found Ol’ Robbo digging around in the space below the lint trap slot with an old coat-hanger (surely there’s a better way to do this?), and dredging up all kinds of things.  In addition to the accumulated lint, I discovered a $5 bill, another $5 in loose change, several hair twisties, a couple lost earrings, innumerable old “Hi, My Name Is…” nametags, and a pair of miniature keys to what I believe was an old locket.  I would not have been the least surprised to find the bones of Piltdown Man in there, too. UPDATE: Mrs. R had a repair guy out today. It was just the thermostat.  He replaced it and cleaned the whole thing out.  MUCH cheaper than plunking for a new one.  Ol’ Robbo is happy.

♦  Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo had a duff steering damper replaced on La Wrangler a couple weeks ago in order to alleviate a bad case of the “death wobble”.  Whelp, as I feared, the fix appears to be more of a Band-Aid than anything else.  The wobble is gone, to be sure, but I can still feel the front wheels fighting with each other.  Also, in the past couple days, the right front has begun making an ominous howling noise that is definitely linked to rotation velocity.  I believe an alignment check is in order, but I now fear that the fellah who recommended the damper replacement may not have actually checked the rest of the steering mechanism.  I don’t want a ball-joint going as I swing down the G-Dub some fine morning, thereby flipping me into the Potomac.

♦  In re culchah-related matters, I’ve been on a bit of a John Wayne toot this weekend, watching back-to-back, “Hondo” and “The Comancheros“, two of my favorites.  (I confess that I also have “The High and the Mighty” at home.  It’s pure cheese, but I like to think that Robert Stack was gamely parodying his performance in it years later when he did “Airplane!“.)

Whelp, that’s about all that occurs to me at the moment and is suitable for discussion over the Stilton and walnuts.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo pointed my attention to a recent article over at NRO by Samuel Abrams about some new survey of colleges and universities that grades them on the genuine “diversity” of political thought and opinion on campus.  Get this:  According to the survey, la-di-da New England schools that pride themselves on being “diverse” are anything but:

At a time when the diversity of ideas — and notably conservative thought — is diminishing on college campuses nationwide, this new classification of schools is important. It answers questions such as, Is the school a place where students are likely to encounter a variety of views on politically and socioeconomically controversial topics? And: Has the school created and fostered an environment where students who do not hold the dominant political viewpoint are afraid to speak up?

The ranking has revealed that New England is by far the worst region of the country, especially for liberal-arts colleges, when it comes to campuses that support and maintain viewpoint diversity. With Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Tufts on the university side and Williams, Wesleyan, Smith, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke on the liberal-arts college side, these schools reflect the politics of the region and were all at the bottom of the rankings in terms of viewpoint diversity. This could well be the first time that these esteemed institutions have found themselves at the bottom of national rankings that are so crucial to the very mission of higher education.

Gee…ya think?

Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo attended The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT back in the day, and that I saw this lockstep group-think crap 35 years ago.  Indeed, the very first time I came across the term “politically correct” – which is Maoist in origin, by the bye – was in the late summah of 1983 when I was a newbie frosh being orientated to campus life.  At first, I naively thought it was a joke.  About 15 minutes later, I realized the Kampus Kulturny were in deadly earnest.

To be fair, back then one could still call these people out, which I proceeded to do vigorously for four years.  Nowadays?  Well, not only would one risk getting a bicycle lock to the temple, one would also face getting hauled up before the campus Star Chamber on charges of Hate Crimes.

No, thankee.

Curiously (and what prompted Mrs. R to send me the article to begin with), the current Premier at the Dear Old Soviet gets a quote in the article:

This message [i.e., that lockstep leftist groupthink is bad and that colleges should be championing the robust, free interchange of ideas] is beginning to resonate. Wesleyan president Michael Roth, in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, recently acknowledged the problem and proposed aggressive action to “create deeper intellectual and political diversity,” because many, often conservative, ideas “seldom get the sustained, scholarly attention that they deserve.” While Roth was short on specifics, his message suggests that the Connecticut college president finally sees that there is a real problem, and he may push Wesleyan to move in the right direction.

And pigs may fly. (Dear Ol’ Wes is, I believe, still at the forefront of the movement to abolish sexist pronouns such as “he” and “she” and replace them with gender-neutral alternatives such as “xer”.  I kid you not.)

My guess is that any “push” in the “right direction” is going to have nothing at all to do with intellectual honesty, scholarly tradition, or a rediscovery of the virtues of the marketplace of ideas.

No, it’s going to be driven by some critical mass of parents suddenly saying, “Why the hell are we shelling out $65K a year for this?”

This just ain’t sour grapes, by the way.  As I say, I went to Wesleyan.  My brother was undergrad at Hamilton.  My sister-in-law went to Wellesley and my cousin went to Holyoke and Harvard.   Mrs. R’s grandfather was a drunken DKE at Dartmouth.  We know these schools.  That said, I certainly would never dream of wasting that kind of money to send any of the Gels to any one of ’em these days.  So there.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo supposes that most friends of the decanter are well aware that this past weekend – specifically July 1 through July 3 – was the 150-somethingth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I didn’t post anything about it  because I kind of burned out on historickal postings a couple years back, feeling I was becoming boring and repetitive, and decided to take a break.  Something tells me that I will soon be ready to plunge back in to such things [Ed. – you mean going back to being boring and repetitive?  Quiet, you!] , but I’m not quite there yet.

Anyhoo, I mention it now because I am currently on the back porch of stately Port Swiller Manor in the quiet evenfall, listening to the rain come down and the occasional distant rumble of thunder, and something just now wandered back into what Ol’ Robbo likes to think of as his braim.

You see, on the night of July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle, there was a hell of a thunderstorm over Gettysburg.  It thoroughly drenched the poor wounded scattered all over the battlefield (and probably killed many of them), and hampered both Lee’s efforts to beat a speedy retreat, and Meade’s efforts to chase him down.

Now, the day’s fighting, which had culminated in Pickett’s Charge, also featured a mass cannonade by both sides – the Confederates first trying to soften the Union center, and the Union replying against the Confederate guns and then blowing holes in Pickett’s lines.  And what wandered into Robbo’s braim was a memory that he had read somewhere of an apparently widespread belief of the time that cannon-fire somehow provoked thunderstorms, and that many were not surprised by the deluge that night.

Of course, correlation does not prove causation.  And the odds of getting caught in a thunderstorm anywhere in the American East during campaigning season are, well, pretty good.  Indeed, Central Pennsylvania in particular gets bulls-eyed on an almost constant basis during the summah.  On the other hand,  empirical observation is not to be completely ignored, and I sometimes wonder whether there might actually be anything to it.

No, I’m not going all AlGore here.  I’m talking about a localized phenomenon: all other conditions being satisfied (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.), could a massive discharge of the chemicals contained in gunpowder change the atmospheric balance in a very limited area to produce an isolated weather event?  I remember the Old Gentleman back in the day looking up at baby cumulo-nimbus clouds and remarking that “one more torque of energy” could turn them into thunderheads.  Could such a discharge supply that additional torque?

Beats the hell out of me, but I enjoy wondering about it.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo really has nothing planned to mark the occasion this year.  Indeed, as is sometimes the case, I am bacheloring it this week at Port Swiller Manor, as the Gels are scattered about at camp and visits to grandparents and whatnot.  So right now I’m just sitting out on the porch with the cats, the dog, and muh coffee (covfifi?), enjoying the cool of the morning, and trying to muster up the energy to go spread a couple bags of mulch and zap some weeds before it gets too hot.  Depending on whether or when we catch a thunderstorm later, I’ll grill up a bacon-cheeseburger and some corn for my dins and then sit back out on the porch and listen to the fireworks.

Hey, I’m not known as the World’s Most Exciting Man for nothing.

Anyhoo, a few thoughts:

♦  I see the usual crop of “Whither America?” essays out there today bemoaning the polarized state of politicks and the debasement of our so-called culchah, and wondering How Much Longer We Can Go On As A Nation.  My guess? We’ll probably muddle through somehow.  (And I’d have said the same thing even if She Who Must Not Be Named had been elected.)  I still believe that when push comes to shove and people are shaken out of their complacency, there is still enough of the American Character in the majority of the population to see us through.  (Okay, I admit this sounds trite, but it’s either this or a ten-thousand word essay, and I’ve not nearly enough energy for that this morning.)

♦  Good for The Donald for coming to the defense of poor little Charlie Gard and his family.  (Go on over to the linkie to get Ace’s background and take.)  To me, this whole wretched situation illustrates perfectly the monstrosity of single-payer, State-run “health care”.  When Leviathan is lord and master, you are nothing but a slave and your life is nothing but a statistic.  (Oh, and one cheer, I suppose, for Papa Frankie, who finally voiced his support for the Gards as well, although it took him long enough to do so.)

♦  This article on a proposed global nuclear weapons ban and the high art of virtue-signaling made Ol’ Robbo smile nostalgically because it brought back to mind his time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT in the mid-80’s when, in response to that crazy summbich Reagan threatening to blow up the world, it became very fashionable for various city councils and campus student governments to pass ordinances and resolutions declaring themselves to be “nuclear-free zones”.  (For some reason, Providence, RI stands out in my mind as an example.)

In response, I drew a cartoon for the conservative paper on campus featuring a handy-dandy, do-it-yourself, “personal” nuclear-free zone:  It featured a hippy with a paper bag over his head.

Curiously, there were those who didn’t think this was s’damn funny. (They were the same crowd who were distraught over the campus health center refusing to stock cyanide capsules to be used in case somebody dropped The Big One.)

(A glass of wine with Vodka Boy over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.)

Whelp, better go spread that mulch……

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Via a Facebook gunnegshun, Ol’ Robbo found himself perusing this article about recent goings on in the Virginia State Legislature.  It seems that, so long as the legislature itself is controlled by Republicans, but that rat-bastard, Clinton bag-man, Terry McAuliffe remains governor, no real sea-change could be expected.  Instead, it seems they spent this session….tinkering.

Shall we have a dekko at your (or, at least, my) tax money at work?

“DRIVING TOO SLOW IN LEFT LANE

Driving in the left lane on state highways without a good reason could now result in a $100 fine. The bill’s sponsor, Del. Israel O’Quinn said he wants to prevent people from driving too slow in the left lanes, which he said endangers law enforcement and spurs road rage.”

Yer damned right! Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way! (Oh, and the legislation should have gone further and banned all Maryland drivers, but that’s just a pet-peeve of mine.)

EVERCLEAR

State-owned liquor stores will now be able to sell a high-proof grain alcohol that is “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color,” which includes the well-known brand Everclear. University officials had voiced concern about binge drinking, but proponents of the law noted that Everclear can be purchased legally in most other states and is often used in cooking.

Duuuude….Ol’ Robbo once experienced Everclear jello shots back in his college days -with pretty disastrous consequences.  Ditto with the Moonshine that a buddy of mine in law school used to bring back from a neighbor of his in rural Georgia.  Two things puzzle Ol’ Robbo about this item:

1.)  Why the hell does our Great Commonwealth still have “state-owned liquor stores”?  Virginia fascists.  I hate Virginia fascists…..

2.)  Cooking with Everclear? Seriously?

(The other two items in the article have to do with needle-exchange for drug addicts and female genital mutilation.  Hardly the stuff for a light-hearted blog post, but you can go on over and read about them if you wish.)

 

Blog Stats

  • 436,010 hits
July 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31