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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had to go up to Philadelphia on biznay yesterday.

I generally try to find some kind word or other for the various places I’ve visited in my work travels over the years, but Philly presents a real challenge.  It’s filthy and disgusting and full of people who look like they’d willingly shoot you out of pure spite but for the cops standing around every ten feet (and maybe even then).

And that’s in the nice part of downtown.

About the only positive I can come up with from my visit at the moment is the Reading Market, where Ol’ Robbo had an obligatory (and very tasty) cheesesteak sammich for lunch.  Seems to me a fellah could make many, many visits to this place without getting bored by the food selection, all of which looked pretty fabulous.

But other than that?  Brrrrr……

We went up by train, by the bye, something I haven’t done in about ten years.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t mind train travel a bit, as I never get tired of gazing out the window and watching the landscape roll by, something I can’t do while driving (for obvious reasons) and won’t do while flying (for reasons well-known to veteran friends of the decanter).  Of course, on the run between Dee Cee and Philly, this is more rewarding in the rural reaches than otherwise:  the crossing of the Susquehanna is far, far more aesthetically pleasing than are the burnt out slums of Baltimore.  But ne’er mind: the latter have educational value, at least.

And speaking of education, on the way home I found myself sitting across the aisle from a young lady who spent almost the entire two hours on her phone.  I couldn’t help overhearing, and gathered that she was a college kid engaged in complicated negotiations with her roommates and her mother over some Rube Goldberg scheme to collect and forward everybody’s share of a summer rent payment on what I assume to be off-campus housing.  It seemed to involve a lot of wire-transfers, priority mail, and passing on of account and routing information, and to be complicated by a lot of logistics concerning who was going to be where and when.

It made me smile because it brought back a memory of one of my own idiot college kid (but I repeat myself) schemes.  One year (my sophomore, I think), I turned up at the airport to fly home toting three enormous duffle bags containing everything for which I hadn’t managed to find storage space.  When I got up to the ticket counter (this was long, long before computer kiosks, kids), the attendant took one look at my tonnage and said, “Well, looks like I’m going to need a big ol’ check from you.”  I had known this ahead of time.  I also knew I only had about ten dollars in my account.  (And I didn’t have a credit card in those days.)  In my idiot college kid reasoning, I reckoned I’d just write the check anyway: By the time it bounced, my bags would already be home and I could get the ‘rents to pony up the deficit.

The only problem with my scheme (aside from its illegality)?  When I opened up my checkbook, there were no checks in it.  I’d used them all up and forgotten about it.


Somehow or other, through a lot of smooth talk and some soulful looks, I managed to persuade the ticket agent to hold my bags in hock behind the counter.  When I got home, I promised I’d get the fee paid and then they could put my bags on another flight.

Believe it or not, the thing worked.  I’m not saying the Old Gentleman was exactly pleased when I explained it to him, but as soon as I arrived he went to the desk at our home port and ponied up, and my bags turned up a couple hours later.

For what it’s worth, I both knew I was being an idiot and was ashamed of it as well.  I smiled now in part because I have long since quit having to do such things myself, and also because the torch seems to have been passed on.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo got kinda lost in reminiscence in putting this post together and, as a consequence, badly burned the French fries that were supposed to constitute part of his din-dins so, well, please clap.

UPDATE DEUX:  Not really related to anything above but sitting out on the porch this evening, just saw my first firefly of the year.  Shiny!  Ol’ Robbo loves him some fireflies.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope and trust that all y’all (as they say in Texas) had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend, taking some time, of course, to reflect on why we have the holiday in the first place and to honor the fallen.

Anyhoo, as he climbed back into the Innerwebz this morning, Ol’ Robbo’s eye was taken by an article which makes him, at least potentially, very happy:  French Senate says Notre-Dame must be restored exactly as it was.

On Monday evening, the French Senate approved the government’s Notre-Dame restoration bill – but added a clause that it must be restored to the state it was before the blaze, striking a blow to the government which had launched an international architecture competition to debate ideas on the restoration.

Now to be perfectly honest, I’ve no idea what the “French Senate” actually is.  Nor do I know how it interacts with “the government”  (although I expect the latter is something akin to our own Executive Branch).  If you read the article in full, it also hints that the final authorization still has to be ironed out with yet another legislative chamber, so despite the headline, this apparently is not a done deal yet.

Nonetheless, I am encouraged.  I dismissed as so much fluff all those ideas about rebuilding the place with a glass ceiling, a minaret, a roof-top garden, and other modernist sacrilegious tweeks the other day, but I confess that I still had a Nameless Fear that something of the sort might happen.  Matter of fact, I still do, and will continue to harbor it until I see the actual construction start.

Mind you, I doubt this move by the Frog Senate has much to do with religious motivation or preservation as HMC would see it.  Instead, I believe it is more in line with what I’ve read about a draconian obsession amongst the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys** with historick preservation of Things Uniquely French.   After all, I believe there still exists an Academy which lays down the law about such things as cluttering up the French language with bastard English (the law being that you can’t).

But hey, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, amirite?

Of course, this assertion of orthodozy brings Ol’ Robbo round to wondering again how on earth that rat-bastard Mitterand ***  managed to swing the construction of I.M. Pei’s pyramid slap in front of the Louvre.  That thing went up 30 years ago.  I remember thinking at the time that it was nothing more than a giant flipping of the bird to Western (and more specifically French) Tradition.  Nothing since then has given me any reason to change my mind.

Howsoever, that’s an aside.  I am still cautiously optimistic about this week’s nooz regarding Notre Dame.


** Okay, how could I write a post about the French without slipping that in?

*** One of my favorite modern Catholic Apologists, John Zmirak, uses Mitterand as a case study in Gluttony for Power in his Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins.  Well worth a read.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just got done with about six hours’ worth of power-washing the Port Swiller porch and patio, plus the stairs between them and a fairish bit of fence in the immediate neighborhood.

I think I’m entitled to sit down now.

The Rolled-Back Rug Reveals Pre-Wash Grunginess Status

Ol’ Robbo enjoys using the washer because it’s one of those tasks that produces immediately noticeable results.  (A year’s worth of grime builds up very gradually and it’s always a bit of a surprise to rediscover the floor’s original color.)  Plus, I’ve always loved the smell of fresh water on wood and concrete on a warm day.

The problem is one of logistics.  First I have to move everything on the porch to one side of it and wash the other.  After waiting for that side to dry, I of course have to move everything across again in order to wash the other.  Finally, I have to put everything back in its original place.  Then there’s the fact that the washer itself has a hose, a power line, and the wand line coming out of it, all of which seem to enjoy getting tangled with each other.  When you’re trying to work your way up and down a flight of stairs with a 90 degree landing with the hose running up from down below and the power line plugged into an outlet up above, it can get rather complicated.

And by the time I get to the patio, I always find myself asking why in Heaven’s name I didn’t break this down into a two-day job.

Order Status: Restored

But ne’er mind:  The jtask is done, everything is clean and fresh, and Mrs. R will be quite pleased when she gets home.

Tomorrow, Ol Robbo paints: Front-porch portico, mailbox post, and as much of the fence as I have time to touch up.  The portico will be especially fun.  Not only do I need to sandpaper off some tar that has leaked out from under the shingle, patch-prime, and repaint the entire top part of the trim, I have to do so lying on top of the thing and leaning over the edge because I don’t have a ladder long enough to get at it.  It’s only about 12 feet up, but that’s quite enough for me and my fear of heights.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

UPDATE:  Okay, after catching my breath and having a tall glass of iced kawfee, I found myself reasoning that I still had lots of time before dinner and why not get a jump on tomorrow?  So I grabbed up the sandpaper, primer, and brush, and went back to work, my first job being the portico.  Yes, I got up on top of it as described above.

The Port Swiller Manor front door faces southwest and gets full afternoon sun.  Please accept Uncle Robbo’s warning that lying in shorts and a t-shirt on asphalt shingles under such conditions is not a terribly good idea.  (Unless, of course, you’re in to burned forearms, knees and stomach.)  Nonetheless, I got it done, and primed the mailbox post as well.  Tomorrow, then, I can go straight to the paint.  (I’m not bothering to prime the fence but am just doing a quick and dirty extra-coat job in some of the places that need it most.)

I really think I’m entitled to sit down now.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself on the cusp of a four day Memorial Day Weekend, so how about an adult beverage, a chair on the porch, and a little this and that while my dinner is in the oven:

Storm of the Century of the Week Watch:  A line of thunderstorms came through Your Nation’s Capital this afternoon and we actually had a tornado warning downtown.  Everything is so wired together now that everybody’s iPhones, landlines, and desktops started cooking off with the alert at the same time.  I don’t much care for that.  Granted, it did get quite dark for a bit.  As it was lightening up to the west, about ten minutes after the alert, incredibly I heard our boss working her way along the hall and trying to shoo people into our “shelter in place” room.  I feigned deafness.  For whatever reason, she never made it as far as my office door.  Perhaps just as well, as I’d have had to squint at her.  Pure silliness.

Milestones:  Today marks the fourth anniversary of our adoption of Decanter Dog.  As I’ve mentioned before, she’s deeply neurotic and not terribly bright, but she’s extremely loyal to the family and has been one of the best things we’ve done.  (We don’t know how old she was when we got her – estimates are of anything between three and eight – so we don’t know how old she is now.  Hopefully, she’ll be around for many more years.)

Urge To Kill Department:  Bring me the head of Dave Martinez! I’m done with this mess.

Holiday? What Holiday?:  Ol’ Robbo is facing a daunting array of outdoor tasks this weekend which include a lot of painting, power-washing, and extra yardwork.  More about all this anon, but it’s all basically in aid of getting Port Swiller Manor shipshape for the arrival of the In-laws next weekend.  I’m actually spiking Mrs. R a bit over all this because I plan to do even more than she’s asked me to. (Yes, I have a twisted sense of humor.)

Whelp, I just heard the oven go “Bing!” so I’d better get to it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s Ol’ Robbo’s understanding that HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series came to a conclusion the other day.

I’ve never seen a single episode myself as I gather it was basically a pron version of Dungeons & Dragons and that holds no appeal for me, but I’m aware that many other folk were deeply devoted to it, and also that a substantial subsection of that group were disappointed in the finale for one reason or another.  This evening, Eldest Gel, who was not a fan herself but likes to observet the observidies, tried to explain to me some of the various objections, as well as some proposals for rectification, up to and including a rewrite of the entire final season.  These proposals, in turn, apparently are generating pushback from the people involved in “GoT’s” actual production and their allied fans.  From what she tells me, the debate seems saturated by a tone of entitlement  toddlerism.  “I want ‘GoT’ MY way!  And I’m going to hold my breath until I DIE, unless they do it exactly as I say! Whaaaaaah!!!”

Seriously, have people nothing better to do with themselves than get cranked up over this?  I’ve been around long enough to see plenty of teevee series come to a controlled storyline  end: “M*A*S*H”, “Cheers”, “Seinfeld”, etc.  I found most of them to be pretty lame, but I never gave it much thought beyond that.

Of course, it’s a tricky biznay, wrapping up a show.  Indeed, so far as Ol’ Robbo recalls, the only series finale that dropped the ball straight into the cup was that of “Newhart“, and even then you had to be in on the backstory to appreciate it.  (But then again, by that point I suppose the only people watching the show were, like Ol’ Robbo, true Bob Newhart fans, and knew all about the backstory.)

Anyhoo, allow Ol’ Robbo to indulge himself by crossing this particular stream, about which he cares not, with another (The “Hitler Rants” Parodies) which he enjoys thoroughly:





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of the pitfalls of driving to work in Your Nation’s Capital is the occasional disruptions to one’s commute by the various Poo-bahs and Mandarins moving hither and yon across town: Everything from an Ambassador and his train to those rat-bastard Secret Service wallahs in their black Suburbans who flip on their flashers and run traffic lights not for reasons of national security but Because They Can.

The one that gets Ol’ Robbo the most, however, is the departure of the President for Andrews AFB during rush hour.  When Marine One is ready to lift off from the South Lawn of the White House, they shut down the block of Constitution Avenue, which is my line of escape, immediately adjacent until it has cleared.  Sometimes the cops divert the east/west traffic, which is horrible in that it forces me to turn 90 degrees and plunge back into the bowels of the City.  Sometimes they’re content to just let us sit still for the half hour or so it takes to complete operations.

Ol’ Robbo is particularly vexed about this at the moment because I was just half a block short of scarpering through this evening when the lockdown went into effect and snagged me.  That I was sitting (in an open-sided Jeep, mind you, and on the hottest day of the year so far) in front of a fellah who felt that leaning on his horn constantly would somehow speed up the process in any meaningful way, I mention merely in passing.

Ol’ Robbo will admit that the first time one sees Marine One soaring away in these situations, one feels a bit of awe and perhaps pride.  But this is the eighth or tenth time this has happened to me in recent years, and I find myself ever more bitterly wondering why the heck the President can’t schedule such a departure so as to minimize the disruption.  The afternoon exodus from downtown Dee Cee takes place in a pretty tight time-band from around five-ish to about six-thirty.  He can’t move his schedule up or back to accommodate this? Yeesh!

And in a spirit of bipartisanship, or perhaps more a pox on both their houses, I don’t care who is in the chopper – Obama, Trump, Zombie George Washington, whoever – I am equally irked when it happens.

UPDATE:  On reflection, sorry for the whining.  My allergies are killing me, my beloved Nats continue to flatline, and Grumpy Cat is mort.  So Ol’ Robbo is already not really in cheek-turning territory at the moment…



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is not quite ready to set his hair on fire and start running about screaming over the idea of Notre Dame Cathedral being fitted out with a green or glass roof, or being turned into some kind of generic “worship center”.  So far as I understand it, people are just spit-balling at this point and the MSM is feasting on click-bait.  The actual decision will take years and probably will be made by people not currently in the position to do so.  (IOW, I hope that punk Macron is long gone by then.)

Of course, Ol’ Robbo favors an exact reconstruction of the original (although I can do without the spire), but you probably guessed that already.

UPDATE:  A friend of the decanter asks, “Tom, what do you have to say about the Abortion Wars hotting up again this week?” Not much, really, as I figure I’d probably just be preaching to the choir here.  I am and always have been Pro-Life.  So are the Gels.  That’s that.

And while I’m updating, I’ll also say I really don’t know much yet about that Charles County, Murrland public school forced recitation of the Islamic conversion creed now possibly heading to the Supremes.  It seems outrageous on the surface, at least, although I’m rather inclined to agree with the same instructor’s alleged remark that, “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.” (I’m looking at you, C&E Crowd!)  But as I say, I haven’t dug into the facts much, nor into the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning for siding with the school.  (In fact, I don’t even remember that ruling coming out.)  Ol’ Robbo has no problem with a public school teaching about a major religion, but forcing a kid to practice it (or even pretend to) seems to me to go way over the line.  OTOH, having been involved in litigation that’s made its way into the press myself, I know just how distorted a story can get.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is loitering around over an extra cuppa coffeve this morning because he really doesn’t much feel like mowing the lawn. I think it has something to do with watching his beloved Nat’nals blow several perfectly good opportunities to win against the Cubbies last evening and turn the game into a humiliating blowout defeat.  I’m getting close to panic-mode with this team. I really am.

And speaking of panic, did you see where the UK Guardian has decided it needs to turn the volume up to eleven on its “climate change” reporting rhetoric?

The Guardian has updated its official style guide to more “accurately” address the seriousness of climate change, the British publication announced Friday.

In an article explaining the decision to readers, environment editor Damian Carrington said Guardian reporters will hereby be advised to use “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” instead of “climate change,” “global heating” instead of “global warming,” and people who used to be described as “climate skeptics” will now be branded “climate science deniers.”

“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner said in a statement. “The phrase ‘climate change,’ for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.

Orwell smiles.  Control the language and you control the debate.  Note particularly how skepticism, which is supposed to be the bedrock principle of scientific inquiry, is mutated into anti-science wrong-think.

Well, call Ol’ Robbo a knuckle-dragging troglodyte, but I’m sticking with my skepticism.  The simple fact of the matter is that nothing about the Earth is static and Ma Nature has been fiddling with the thermostat herself for time immemorial.  (Could Mankind have some kind of impact on all this? Maybe.  But I’m willing to bet it’s most likely round the margins.)  The other simple fact is that the “climate science” at issue here appears to be absolutely full of holes: bad data (the sets are too small and I’ve read horror stories about some of the collection methods), inconsistencies, frauds, hidden calculations, and (it’s all modelling anyway) failure to conform with actual events.

As I’ve said many times before, this whole biznay is about politicks, not science, and specifically globalist authoritarian politicks.  The devil with Mizz Viner and her  catastrophes for humanity.

Whelp, enough grumbling.  The cold, hard fact is that Ol’ Robbo’s lawn ain’t gonna mow itself, so I better get myself in gear and git her done.

UPDATE: Done and done.  And because we’re having our first real hot stretch of the year, Ol’ Robbo flipped on the porch ceiling fans and is relaxing with a tall glass of iced coffee.  Nectar of the Gods, as I’ve said here many times before.  The fastest way to Ol’ Robbo’s heart may be a glass of wine, but a glass of iced coffee on a hot, summah-like day will get you mighty far, too.

Oh, and as I was standing about on the driveway waiting for Mrs. R to stop fiddling with her phone and pull out so I could finish clearing off the clippings, I got to say in my best Duke voice, “Get goin’, sister!  We’re burnin’ daylight!”  She didn’t think it was s’damn funny, but my day is more or less complete now.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the local classickal station is at it again with their semi-annual pledge drive.  Each time this comes around, Ol’ Robbo finds himself cringing just a little bit more.  Why?  Because every single time, not only do they use exactly the same format, they also use exactly the same language: the same scripted hooey about “community” and “the Arts” and “therapy”; the same pre-recorded plugs for promotional gift CD’s; even the same listener commentary (most of which is inane).   You’d think that after years and years of this they might try something different, especially as they’re always on about not making this or that pledge goal.

To be absolutely fair, Ol’ Robbo tried to think up some alternative fundraiser ideas himself, but really didn’t get much further than a model based on Python’s Blackmail Sketch.  Yes, it would be mighty effective, especially here in the Swamp, but somehow I don’t think the station’s board would be much interested.

By the bye, I’ve been slipping them some coin for years and years.  If I find out that some of this is leaking over to their teevee operations, especially as PBS is going full-on SJW with the kidz, I may have to rethink that very hard.  (Not saying they can’t do it, just saying I won’t voluntarily pay for it.)

And speaking of musick and money, Ol’ Robbo learned this week from comments over at AoSHQ that there exists a director’s cut of the movie “Amadeus” that contains a scene in which Constanze offers to prostitute herself to Salieri in order to get some badly-needed readies for the Mozarts.  I never much liked the movie anyway since it plays so very fast and loose with the actual facts of Mozart’s life, but this is positively obscene.

One fellow Moron said yes, the movie is inaccurate, but it’s telling the story from Salieri’s point of view and he was lying and delusional.  First, that’s a slander on Salieri.  Second, I don’t think it comes across that way from the screenplay, since there are many scene outside of Salieri’s scope of vision.  And third, for a large chunk of the audience, the movie is the reality, as it’s the only source of biographical information about Wolfgang to which they’ve likely ever been exposed or will be.

Another said well the fact was that Mozart was a true genius and wound up in a pauper’s grave and that wasn’t right.  Well, it wasn’t lack of appreciation that put Wolfgang in a pauper’s grave, but his wife who, as a new widow with two small sons and almost no assets, had to be as thrifty as possible.  (Besides, this practice was quite common in Vienna at the time.)  And why hadn’t his musickal genius brought the family greater fortune while Wolfgang was still alive?  Because as a businessman and professional, he was an absolute idiot, with neither the patience nor the foresight to put down roots, pay his dues, bide his time, build up a body of goodwill, or seize real opportunities when they presented themselves.  (Ol’ Robbo often wonders what might have happened had Mozart gone to London along with Papa Haydn, as Peter Salomon so wanted him to do.)  That’s why.

Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

[Ed. – I didn’t get a “Harumph!’ from that guy over there.]

UPDATE: Oh, by the bye, in my younger days, I’d have finished this post with the YooToob of “Rock Me, Amadeus”.  I like to think I’ve outgrown that now.  Instead, I direct your attention over to Friend of the Decanter Zoopraxiscope Don, who reports that tomorrow is World Fiddle Day and provides some toe-tapping samples to get us in the mood.  A glass of wine with you!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As the more lynx-eyed Friends of the Decanter may recollect, Ol’ Robbo’s employment unit is upping stakes and moving to a brand new building in just about two months now.

This week saw the selection of individual offices within our new space.  We’re up on a higher floor in our new digs, and there are only a certain number of window offices available, not nearly enough for our entire attorney crew.

The selection lottery was based on service seniority.  Ol’ Robbo was mildly surprised to see that I came second in the entire bunch.  I guess I have been around for a while!  (In fact, some day I’ll tell you all about it, one way or another.  I’m thinking along the lines of John Mortimer’s Rumpole as a model.)

I couldn’t participate in the selection process myself, owing to a bout of Bechuana Tummy***, so I asked my immediate supervisor to make my choice for me.  “Oh, a window office for sure, please, and on the west side of the building,” I said.

Why the west?  Well, because that’s where the weather comes from.  And Ol’ Robbo loves to watch the weather coming in.

Not that I’ll really see that much since we’ve got another equally tall building right across the courtyard on that side, but I reckon I’ll be able to see enough overhead and round the corners.  Plus, I understand I get to graduate up to two computer screens now, so I’ll always be able to keep a Doppler loop radar open in a corner of one of them to coordinate with my observations.

If all this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


**Even though I may or may not be dressed as one.  Spot the *almost* quote.  Hint: It involves wood.

***Spot the reference.  I actually picked up a nasty chill/fever on Monday and there’s something going about, but I couldn’t resist plugging it in because I enjoy it so much.






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May 2019