You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2019.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yep, summah is definitely here with a vengeance in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny.  But as Ol’ Robbo surmises from his traffic meter, most of you probably don’t want yet another post about mowing the lawn.  So how about a little random, some serious and some not so much?

♦  Following up on my post about mysterious calls from Mrs. R, the fons et origo of that one was our landscape guy, who has a very bad habit of not staying within the scope of work we ask him to do.  Part of this is a language barrier – he’s from Chile and still struggles with English – but part of it, I think, is shear pig-headedness worthy of Angus McAllister, Lord Emsworth’s head gardener.  We had him clear out the Port Swiller Manor gutters this week, and I notice that while he was at it he killed the Virginia creeper that was wrapped around the chimney.  We’ve been arguing about the creeper and ivy on the house for some years now, and I’m positive he took the opportunity for a little accidental-on-purpose chicanery.  Suff on him.

♦  Ol’ Robbo did not watch the Donk debates this week but did see some clips and reactions.  By all accounts they went Full Progtard.  Never go Full Progtard.***  They evidently want me dead, so why should I listen to them (or to the Never-Trumpers, for that matter).

♦  I do not wish to speak ill of the dead or for an instant suggest that the monster who did it does not deserve everything he’s got coming to him, but this Utah college girl murder has me incensed in large part because a whole lot of stupid brought it about.  (I don’t know if the rumors the kid was looking for a Sugar Daddy are true, but what possible good reason could explain meeting a stranger in a park at 3 o’clock in the morning?)  I have told the Gels time and time again: Don’t. Do. Stupid. Things.  In the twisted reasoning of the current zeitgeist, this makes me some kind of patriarchal misogynist, but dammit, this story is precisely why I continue to say so.  (They’ve taken it to heart, too, thank God.)

♦  In case you haven’t noticed, Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats have quietly pulled up over the .500 mark for the first time since, well, Opening Day almost.  I confess I feel a bit ashamed of myself for setting my hair on fire and prognosticating doom and gloom earlier on.  (Tom Paine no doubt would deride me as a “summer soldier” and “sunshine patriot”.)  Ain’t baseball just like that, though?  What else is there to say, except GO, NATS!

Whelp, as I like to say, lawn ain’t gonna mow itself.  Be back later.

**Spot the reference.

UPDATE:  Done and done.  Nasty job in this weathah.  Truth be told, I think I overdid it somewhat, as I can feel all the symptoms of my internal thermostat red-lining now.

Help me, Obi-Wan Iced Kawfee! You’re my only hope!

Speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo spotted an article some time earlier this week noting that the term “Climate Chaos” is now back in vogue among the meteorological scare-mongers.  Funny, I thought that happened a few years back.  As I recall it, they stopped saying “Global Warming” after several of their high-profile conferences got snowed out and people pointed and laughed.  Some of them tried “Global Weirding” for a while, but that didn’t seem to stick.  So they hit on “Climate Chaos” both because it’s scary and because it’s enigmatic enough to be used at all times and in all conditions.  BOOGIE-BOOGIE-BOO!!





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo learns that on this day in 1820, it was conclusively proven that tomatoes are not poisonous, and that therefore some folks have dubbed this International Tomatoes Aren’t Poisonous Day.

Well, not to me.  You can keep your Red Death, and have mine as well.

Although Ol’ Robbo likes many things in which tomatoes are an ingredient – tomato soup, pizza sauce, veal parm, salsa, etc. (but not ketchup)- he loathes the fruit itself.  The combination of taste and texture just gives him the willies.

The Mothe used to do a stuffed tomato recipe – baked (I think) and filled with bread crumbs, parsley bits, and spices – at which I became so expert at fishing out the last bits of stuffing without getting the icky casing that I could have become a fine neurosurgeon.

The Old Gentleman used to grow tomatoes in the South Texas of my misspent yoot.  (The claim that a fresh tomato right off the plant will change a mind prejudiced by only store-bought experience is a vicious lie, by the bye.  I still remember the dinner when he tried to prove it to me.)  We had a big, dumb pointer in those days who had a habit of delicately plucking the fruit off the plants just as they achieved ripeness, much to the Old Boy’s ire.  He (the dog) didn’t even bother to eat them.

Anyhoo, in honor of the day, how about the helicopter crash scene from “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes“?  The story is that the chopper really did crash and that the movie simply adapted itself to the calamity:




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo laughed and laughed over this article today:  Divers pull more than 50 e-scooters from Willamette River:

More than 50 e-scooters and a few bikes were pulled from the Willamette River in downtown Portland Tuesday and Wednesday by a county sheriff’s office dive team. The divers noticed the scooters in the river last month.

Lime, Bird and Razor e-scooters were piled up in a boat Tuesday while a dive team searched along the downtown sea wall for more. Sgt. Brandon White from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said he wasn’t sure who put the scooters in the river or why they were put there.

Sergeant? Let me put you some knowledge.  Those scooters were in the drink because hooligans  thought it would be a good idea, and because they could!  (Because Duuuude!)

Rental versions of these damned things are all over Your Nation’s Capital, with particular concentrations of them on the National Mall.  They can go far faster than they really need to, and on his lunchtime walks Ol’ Robbo has had every kind of encounter with hot-dogging kids and middle-aged newbies trying to look cool.

But that’s a personal rant aside.  (I never thought I’d see the day when I encountered something worse that the segue tours, but yeah, these things are.)

I have also see the things abandoned all over the place and have wondered often how on earth their proprietors can keep track of their stock and also what would prevent some wag from chucking one into the Potomac simply for the divilment of it.  (It needn’t even be the last person who rented it.  The things aren’t secured at all, so anybody could simply pick one up and consign it to the depths.)

I guess the answer is that said proprietors can’t.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo came back from lunch to find messages on his various electronic communications devices from Mrs. R.  They simply said, “Call me, please.”

This drives me nuts because it always makes my stomach lurch:  The message could be anything from “I’m at the store, any dinner requests?” to “Oh my God, Middle Gel has just been eaten by sharks!”

I figure it’s not something bad, but I don’t know until I’ve actually made contact.  And in that time lag, I age somewhat faster.


UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo did not throw out that line about Middle Gel and sharks at random.  She’s diving down in the Keys this week, and if a shark attack is a remote possibility, I still think there’d be something wrong with me as a Dad if it wasn’t at least lurking somewhere at the back of my head.

So when I spotted this item today about a California college kid killed by tiger sharks while snorkeling in the Bahamas, yeah, that didn’t really help much.

The Mothe used to tell me, when I complained about her fussing, that you never, ever stop worrying about your kids.  What you worry about may change, but the fact that you worry doesn’t.

True.  True.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of this October, the Family Robbo will have occupied Port Swiller Manor for 19 years.  It’s a modest two-story brick colonial with a walk-out basement, plus a standard four-room-plus-front-hall downstairs and four bedrooms upstairs.

Myself, I’ve always thought the first floor layout to be just fine: Living room, library, dining room, kitchen. (My only gripe is that the kitchen, designed in the early 70’s when the place was built, is really not much more than a glorified galley, reminiscent of a time when folks didn’t do all that much serious cooking.  Preparing a meal more elaborate than a roast, Yorkshire pud, and two veg, particularly given how blasted picky my family is, requires logistical calculations worthy of the Overlord landings.  But I can live with that.)

Mrs. Robbo is of a very different mind.  Every now and again she is seized with the desire to Do Something with the downstairs, something that invariably involves knocking out one or more walls.

Now if there’s one thing Ol’ Robbo loathes more than anything else architecture-wise,  it’s an open floorplan.  To me, a proper house should be clearly compartmentalized.  I simply don’t want, for example, to sit in my library and stare straight into the kitchen.

I say so to Mrs. R whenever she gets this expansionist itch.

“Oh,” she says, “But at least I want a bigger kitchen!  One with two ovens and a bigger fridge and an island in the middle!”

“Why?” I ask.  “You don’t cook.”  (She doesn’t.)

“Well, but I might!” she always answers.

Yeah, no.  (And I’ve no problem with that.  She is who she is.)

But because Mrs. R brings these things up, Ol’ Robbo finds himself almost involuntarily playing What If games, at least as far as the kitchen goes.  As a matter of fact, I actually do have a plan half-mapped out in my head.  The problem is that it is also associated with a reconfiguration of one whole end of the house, including the garage, the building of an in-law/ guest suite (which we’ve often discussed) over it, the transmogrification of the laundry room and pantries, and the relocation of the washing machine and drier to the basement.

Doable, but at a price far beyond anything we could hope to swallow for the foreseeable future, what with having at least two gels in college for the next four years.  And besides, once Ol’ Robbo goes under the sod or we otherwise sell the place, what with the current trend in our neck of Northern Virginny, the odds are that the buyers would simply knock the place down altogether and build a new McMansion afresh.  So why sink capital into the place we don’t absolutely need or want to?

That’s Ol’ Robbo’s trump card for sticking to the status quo, and by golly I’m going to play it for all it’s worth.

Obligatory musickal selection:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On the back of a minivan this evening, Ol’ Robbo spotted a bumper sticker which read “Protect Your Child, Not Your Guns”.  (The van also still had its “Hillary!” sticker, so there you go.)

It immediately occurred to me that this is an idiotically false dichotomy, and that there actually are few better ways to protect one’s home and family than to arm up.***

Am I missing something?

Yes, there’s a reason “bumper sticker mentality” is used as a term of disparagement.

Not that I had an opportunity to say anything, but now that I think about it in true lesprit de l’escalier fashion, I’d also love to have been able to yell, “Say, does that include protecting an unborn child?  No?  Well, bless your heart!”

Maybe next time, eh?


***As it happens, Middle Gel and I were talking about this just the other day.  She’s a petite thing, about 5’3″ and not much north of 100 lbs, and I’ve always fretted in a vague way about her being out there in the Big Bad World.  Currently, she carries pepper-spray and a stun-gun, but she can’t wait until she’s old enough to pack heat.  Neither can I.


JUST BECAUSE IT ISN’T WORTH ITS OWN POST UPDATE:  May I just say here that, despite the gentle pressure of Googlelag, I don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about World Cup Soccer, men’s or women’s?  Thank you.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Robbo Family tradition played out today, as Mrs. R and I carted Youngest Gel off to two weeks at Bible-Thumper Camp.  This is the Gel’s tenth year there as a camper and she’ll go back for another two week stint in August as a member of the kitchen crew.  (She also intends to set the Port Swiller Family record by going back next year for her eleventh, possibly as a team captain, thus doing down Middle Gel, who chose to spend the summah of her senior year in high school at the Young Life camp up to Upstate New York.)

I use the “Bible-Thumper” moniker here in completely good-natured jest.  The camp is unabashedly Christian in its mission and activities, is run by Evangelicals and is staffed by college kids from places like Liberty University and Grove City College.  As what’s left of our so-called culture hurtles ever more swiftly into the abyss, Ol’ Robbo isn’t going to let a few theological disputes between them and the Old Religion prevent him from welcoming these folks as allies. (The camp motto is: God First, Others Second, I’m Third.)  Plus, after all these years, not one of the Gels has reported any snake-handling sessions there….

I keed.  I keed!

On the other hand, as always, a stream of “Christian Rock” was blaring over the loudspeakers over to the main assembly area.   Theology aside, from a purely aesthetic point of view, Ol’ Robbo has always found this particular musickal genre pretty vile.  What I say is, if Gregorian Chant is good enough for me, it’s good enough for these young whipper-snappers!

Lawn.  Off.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got all his mowing and trimming out of the way yesterday, so I was able to concentrate on other matters in the garden today.  Begun the morning glory wars have.

I’ve no problem with morning glory as such.  In my yoot, the neighbors behind us had a back fence covered in them and they were magnificent.  But I do strongly object to the ones that run wild around here, and will strangle everything else before you can say “knife”.  Some years I fight them.  Some, it’s more of an Anschluss.

This year I’m fighting.  I’ve been very good about keeping all the clutter away from around Kong and the Konglings,*** so even when the MG’s have sprouted up and started entangling them, it’s relatively easy to track them back to their base and uproot them.

Alas, ceaseless vigilance will be the watchword, because the little bastards don’t give over until the frost.

***For those of you unfamiliar, this is Ol’ Robbo’s name for the Buddleia that make up the bulk of his garden.  Kong started as a tiny little seedling under the lights in my basement nearly twenty years ago, survived transplanting, grew to enormous size and started throwing progeny all about. Today there must be between fifteen and twenty of them.  They’re just coming into bloom now, and the garden will be full of butterflies and hummingbirds for the rest of the summah.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo mentioning a week or two ago the monstrously expensive generator we had installed last year seeming to go duff the very first time we actually had any real need of it?

Well, the installer came out today to take a dekko.  He pushed a few buttons, twiddled with some of the bits, and took some readings on others.  In the end, his prognosis was, “Well, it’s working now.  Can’t really say why it wasn’t working then, as it should have been.”

How’s that for reassurance?

As it happens, he’s coming back next week to do an annual service.  I hadn’t realized before today that the thing keeps a digital status log which records, essentially, everything that happens to it: when it turns on; when it turns off; when something goes blooey.  One of the things the fellah’s going to do when he returns is install a wireless gizmo that allows the on-board computer to send these flags to any email we choose, including the installer.  That way, he’s got a real-time alert in case a problem comes up and can respond accordingly.

I can see the usefulness of this, but I can also very much see the dangers in terms of data-based totalitarianism.

Now you folks may think that Ol’ Robbo is wandering into tinfoil hat territory here.  Mebbe, but mebbe not.

I see more and more articles about this evolving Chinese social credit system, whereby “citizens” may be rewarded or punished in terms of access to basic goods and services based on their adherence to Party-approved behavior.  Frankly, this scares the willies out of me, because I know our own Leftist Elites would dearly love to impose such a system here.

Heck, it’s already happening, with, for example, banks taking steps to limit access to credit for firearms purchases. (And yet, you still have to bake the damned cake.) The rapid digitization of everything makes such manipulation infinitely easier, as all that data can be centralized, collated, and evaluated.

A wireless generator diagnostic alert system may seem harmless, but Ol’ Robbo can just imagine, in the midst of a massive blizzard-related power outage, getting a notice from Washington Gas (which powers the thing) stating:

“Dear valued customer: Our central database indicates that you are a practicing Roman Catholic.  Furthermore, according to records obtained from Netflix, you appear to watch a great many John Wayne movies.  Your vehicular travel patterns indicate that you do not take full advantage of available public transportation resources.  Your social media activities demonstrate that you are not sufficiently woke.

These data have a direct, negative effect on your social credit.  Because of this and because of our limited resources during the current emergency, this is to inform you that we are temporarily suspending the supply of natural gas to your location, and redirecting that supply to other customers with higher credit.

Have a nice day.”

I only hope that this is just crazy talk.




‘Allo! My Name is Robbo the Port Swiller. You put impurities in my glass. Prepare to die!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was idly messing about on Bing this evening, wondering whether he had it in him to put up a new post, what with all this heat and humidity, when he stumbled across a site promoting Port Cocktails. That certainly perked him up!

My God in Heaven, what is wrong with people?  Why can’t you leave well enough alone? Wine -fortified or otherwise – should never, ever be mixed with anything else.  (And don’t gimme the sangria argument, because it’s vile.)  Same with beer.  Same with that noblest of all the hard stuff, single-malt scotch.

That leaves you with plenty of room – Pimms, gin, vodka, bourbon, various other liquors.  Hell, I’ve even sampled fruit-infused moonshine.  (Smooth as silk, by the bye, but you wake up naked in Singapore three days later.  It’s a long story.)

Anyhoo, go play with them and leave off trying to debauch the Pure.

(And no, calling a Port mixture abomination Trafalgar Punch is not going to get around Ol’ Robbo by appealing to his historickal nerdiness.)

Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!


Blog Stats

  • 501,221 hits
June 2019