You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2019.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

So is Ol’ Robbo supposed to set his hair on fire about Hurricane Dorian or not?  Because this match is beginning to burn my fing……YOUCH!

Meanwhile, we’re reached that point in the year when the change in the light owing to the shift of the sun’s angle becomes definitely noticeable.  I’ve always loved that.

We’re also getting some change in leaf color.  They’re also beginning to fall in a thin yet constant stream.  Again, this is all a couple weeks early for round here.  We’re about due for a hard winter.  Wonder if this means we’ll get one?

Speaking of leaves, I notice that the ferns on my back porch have become extra-shaggy.  They always seem to go through a growth spurt right at the end of summah.  In a minor bit of gardening triumph, I may say that three of them are last year’s plants which we brought inside over the winter and put back out this spring.  The fourth is a replacement for one which we kept inside.  Even though the three were a bit scraggly at the beginning of the season, you cannot tell any difference between them and the new fourth one.  We’ll probably bring them all inside again this year and see if we can repeat that success in the spring.

The porch potted palm has not been such a success.  It survived the winter inside but really hasn’t grown much at all this year.

Gazing further afield.  I’ve been promising myself for years that come fall I was going to dig up and separate out the root balls of some or all of my peonies.  Well, I’m really going to do it this year.  Stop laughing.

I have two regular hummingbirds at my feeder this year.  They’re both female, one somewhat bigger than the other, and spend a lot of time fighting each other.  Ornery little critters, hummers are.

Whelp, suppose I’d better go mow the lawn……

UPDATE:  Speaking of hair on fire, I read somewhere this week that 16 y.o. climate “activist” Greta Thunberg said she “couldn’t tolerate” people who are skeptical about global warming.

By a curious coincidence, Ol’ Robbo can’t tolerate precocious, delusional teenagers.  So I guess we’re even.

(Actually, what I really can’t tolerate is the people using this poor kid as a prop to advance their politickal agenda.  That’s child abuse, that is.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are on the cusp of the long weekend which serves as the back-marker of Summah, long Ol’ Robbo’s least-favorite season.  Thanks for playing.  Now move along.

Ol’ Robbo had a rather startling experience last evening.  As I mentioned below, I was given a prescription for BP meds this week, which the doc duly phoned in to CVS.  I mentioned this to Mrs. R and asked her if there was a way that I could give her the authority to check on availability, pick them up when she happened to be there, and so on.  (Mrs. R loves to manage this sort of thing, so I knew it would be no burden to ask her.)  “Sure,” she said, “But you have to fill out an on-line authorization form.  I’ll send you the link.”

So she did.  When I opened it up, it asked me for my date of birth and zip code.  “Okay,” I thought, “Security clearance.  No biggie.”  But that was just the beginning.  It then asked me a whole slew of multiple choice questions.  “With which city listed have you not been associated?”  “On which street or streets have you lived?” “In what state was your social security card issued?”  And several others of like biographical reference.

What I want to know is:  How the hell does CVS HAVE all this information about me?  

How do they know I have no association with Pittsburgh?  (I do, as a matter of fact.  I’ve been there twice and have walked over the Roberto Clementi Bridge several times.  So, nyah.)

How can they remember a street I haven’t lived on in thirty years?  (And I don’t recall ever doing any biznay with them when I did.)

Mayun, that was creepy.


On a totally different note, one of the perks of Ol’ Robbo’s new office is that I have one of those work stations you can raise or lower, so that you can either stand or sit while tapping away at your keyboard.  I’ve been trying it out this past week and discovering, once I got the keyboard angle right, that I really rather like the standing option.  My question is what the optimum ratio of standing to sitting ought to be.  I did a little bit of googling on the subject (which will no doubt come up in a future security screening somewhere) and found one site that recommended standing 15 minutes in the hour, but that seems a little low to me, as well as being disruptive when I’m hot n’ heavy into a writing assignment of some sort.  Any friends of the decanter out there have any thoughts/experience about this?

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify:  I’m not naïve about Big Data in general.  What startled me was how much an entity with which I’ve had relatively little contact over the years and about which I hardly think twice should know about me.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a few odds and ends from Meat-Space Robbo’s life?

♦  Went for my annual physical yesterday.  (Actually, it’s been two years since my last.)  I have a new doc, my long-time previous one having recently moved her practice too far away to be practical.  I think I like new doc, as she is no-nonsense and to the point, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, which is a pity.  Anyhoo, although pronouncing me generally fit, she’s putting me on BP meds.  Not that mine is outrageously high, but it’s at the high end of normal and, according to the EKG, is beginning to have an effect on Mr. Heart.  I’ve got no problem with this.  What I do have a problem with is her recommendation that I cut back on wine and coffee.  When she made it, I smiled diplomatically and kept my thoughts to myself (thoughts running along the lines of “Wine glass….coffeve mug….cold dead fingers…..”).

Oh, and she gently pointed out the arthritis in my knees, which is not exactly news to me.

(And no, she didn’t do that exam.  In this respect, it’s probably just as well that she’s so cold.  Prior doc was kinda hawt and quite friendly, and it was only Ol’ Robbo’s Guardian Angel who prevented him more than once from making some crack about flowers or buying breakfast.)

♦  I received this week a potential juror questionnaire from my County.  This is the first time I’ve ever come close to jury duty since I got a notice about it 30-odd years ago.  (As I was in college in Connecticut at the time and the notice emanated from my home in Bexar County, Texas, I simply ignored it.)  This time I figure I’ll dodge it because the Great Commonwealth of Virginny has a statutory claim for exemption based on active bar membership and legal practice.  (No trial lawyer in his right mind would want another lawyer empaneled on a jury anyway.)  I duly checked the relevant box and sent the questionnaire back and don’t expect to hear any more about it.

Not that I’m active in Virginny anymore, mind you.  I passed the bar here in 1991 and maintained active status until I went to work for Uncle back in 2004.  Then I went inactive because Virginny requires annual CLE credits (which DC, where I’ve been active since the mid 90’s, does not), and Uncle won’t pay for them.  That I keep my membership in the Commonwealth’s bar at all (and hoik up the corresponding annual dues) is a matter of self-respect.  This way, I can still maintain the position that I’m a Virginny lawyer who happens to be practicing in Your Nation’s Capital, instead of a full-blown denizen of the Swamp, the last thing I ever imagined I’d be growing up.

♦  Recently, Ol’ Robbo has noticed a tendency in Youngest Gel to get half-way through a substantive sentence and then suddenly cut it off with, “Like…….yeah.”  Is this a thing among the Young People?  Once I became aware of it, it took on the status of an ear-worm and now drives me crazy every time I hear it.  Not that I’m not fighting back, mind you:  “Finish the thought.  FINISH THE THOUGHT!” is now my response of choice.

Kids today.  They’re young.

Well that’s all the news from Port Swiller Manor, where all the Mrs. R’s are strong, all the Robbos are good-looking (not!), and all the Gels are above average……..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, Youngest started her senior year of high school today.

Mrs. R had to flag her down in the driveway because she’d forgotten to take a fistful of forms with her.

It was only after she’d beetled off that we discovered she’d also forgotten her wallet.

I hope this isn’t some kind of omen…..

UPDATE:  First Day in the can.  Just from conversations I’ve had with her in the past day or two, the Gel is already developing the thousand yard stare: She’s quite done with the “high school experience”, is not much interested in all the senior year hoopla, and can’t wait to clear out and head for college.  I couldn’t tell you how much of this might be attributable to the fact that she’s got two sisters blazing the trail in front of her, how much is her general disdain for teenage immaturity, and how much is pure wanderlust looking for a new adventure.  (She was telling me this evening about a group of her classmates who decorated their cars with “Seniors ’20” type slogans for the occasion.  She didn’t think much of them.)  Perhaps it’s some combination of them all, perhaps there are other elements, too.

And speaking of which, poor Mrs. Robbo seems to be experiencing what one might call anticipatory empty-nest syndrome.  It has been noted that lately she is turning up her long-distance fussing over the Elder Gels and her in-person fussing over the Youngest to eleven.  (Fortunately, they all seem to understand and to take it in stride tolerantly.)  I have to believe that this is probably more of a Mom Thing than a Dad Thing, since I certainly am sobered by their growing up and moving out but I find myself far more excited/concerned about the future than about the past.

As for that need for nurture?  Well, that’s why we have Decanter Dog.

(Yes, you may hiss at me.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt you all have heard the quote, “When people stop believing in God, the trouble is not that they believe nothing but that they’ll believe anything.”  (It’s attributed to Chesterton, but I’ve never been able to track it down.  M. Hercule Flambeau says something like it in one of the Father Brown stories, but the language is different.)

It certainly seems this wisdom is well-illustrated by the filth and nonsense being spewed all over the place these days by the press, social media, Hollywood, Big Education, and Big Government.

But the flip-side of this is also just as true:  When people do believe in God (and I mean God, not “a god”), falsehood is rendered virtually powerless.  Not that the forces of darkness couldn’t physically strong-arm a person, but they’re far, far less likely to be able to corrupt that person’s soul.  And for purposes of eternal salvation, isn’t that what really counts?

It’s a mighty comforting thought in these crazy days.

UPDATE:  Not my own original thought, to be sure.  I should have mentioned that watching the all-out assault on all Judeo-Christian values (which I actually believe to be a sign of panic and desperation)  reminds me of that scene in Lewis’s “The Silver Chair” where the Green Lady tries to hocus Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum into believing there never was such a thing as the sky, or Overland, or Narnia, or…..Aslan.  Puddleglum’s response always gets me just a little bit weepy.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah…..First cool front of the season and an almost frighteningly beautiful morning here at Port Swiller Manor!  It’s going to be one of those days in which Ol’ Robbo looks for extra things to do just as an excuse to stay out in the yard that much longer.

This weather is about three weeks early this year, our first cool push usually coming around the second week of September.  (Remember 9/11?)  I guess that means that creepy Swedish child-prophetess of Mother Gaia can turn her boat around and go right back where she came from.  And if she cares to take Bernie Sandernista and his latest Green Nude Eel (which calls, I believe, for the beggaring of the entire population and the literal ritualistic sacrifice of anyone associated with energy production), well, I for one would not complain.

Whelp, time to go revel and frolic.

UPDATE:  When Ol’ Robbo was but a grade-schooler, one of his proudest achievements was learning the vocabulary word “serendipity”.  The grass this morning was tall and very wet from yesterday’s rain, and a hard slog for my mower.  That it ran out of gas just after I completed my final pass across the yard was truly serendipitous.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today was Robbo’s work-from-home day and what a delightful one (to me) it turned out to be: cool and rainy and more like early October than late August.  My thermometer dropped down into the high 60’s late in the morning and hasn’t budged since.  Ol’ Robbo set up his work station out on the porch and even after a couple cups of kawfee was chilled enough to go get a sweatshirt.

I’ll take this kind of weather any day.

And since I know all you friends of the decanter are just itching to ask the question, no, I didn’t have a deviled ham sammich for lunch today, it being Friday and all.  Instead, I had a simple little toasted cheese snack that I like to make:  Take English muffin halves and place on a baking sheet.  Put a pat of butter on each and top off with liberal sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.  Broil on high until muffins are toasted to taste, the butter having melted and helped to distribute the cheese more evenly.  Mrs. Robbo objects to this snack because she hates the smell of the cheese toasting, but I rather like it.  Fortunately, she was away at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method getting her classroom ready for the start of school, so I was able to feast in peace.

And now…..the weekend!

UPDATE:  As Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals had a day game this afternoon (in which they thumped the Cubbies in fine style), I went back to my movie horde this evening for a little entertainment.

As I had mentioned somewhere or other recently, Eldest had recommended I give “The Brothers Grimm” a try because she knows I’m a fan of (some**) Terry Gilliam movies.  I had tossed it in my Netflix queue and jumped it to the front in the hope that we could watch it together before she went back to school.  Well, that didn’t work out.  And perhaps it was just as well.  I got through about 20 minutes of the thing before I gave up in disgust.  I can’t really articulate why I found no sympathy for it, it simply didn’t click for me.

Instead, I found that TCM is doing a Fred and Ginger marathon today, so I watched “Top Hat“, a movie I haven’t seen in donkeys’ years.  Good Lawd Almighty, was that man light on his feet!  (And a strident perfectionist.  Somewhere or other, I recall reading that he once said to Ginger Rogers in their early days, “Don’t be nervous.  But don’t screw up.”)  Anyhoo, it was pleasant to watch again, even if it is pure mid-30’s over-the-top spectacle.

So an evening’s entertainment salvaged.


** “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” is one of my very favorite films.  I first saw it in a theatre with a young lady who was far more interested in me than in what was on the screen. (Shut up! It happened sometimes back in the day!)   I still feel rather a cad in that I was so captivated by the movie that I, er, declined her alternate entertainment suggestions.  “Time Bandits” is another favorite because it’s both goofy and weird.  “Brazil” I appreciate rather than enjoy, and I only watch it when in the darkest throes of cynicism.  (Why the hell would a hard leftie like Gilliam make such a dystopian flick and not understand that what he believes in leads exactly and invariably to that?)  Also, I will here again recommend “Lost In La Mancha” which is a “behind the scenes” extra which turned into a documentary on Gilliam’s failed attempt to do a Don Quixote movie.  A fascinating piece on the travails of film-making.

The rest of his stuff you can keep.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As friends of the decanter will know, Ol’ Robbo’s office moved to a new building in a different part of Your Nation’s Capital a couple weeks ago.

Said friends will also know by now that Ol’ Robbo is practically a slave to habit and routine.  And one of my habits for years on end has been to swing by Potbelly’s to pick up my lunch.  Fortunately, as was the case at the old digs, there’s one round the block from my new office.  So I reckoned I had at least one piece of continuity to which I could cling during the whole transition thing.

I’m finding, however, that I might have been a bit premature in this reckoning.  Sure, the food is the same, but the experience is proving to be vastly different.

My old shop was run by a fellah who I believe was a retired master-sergeant.  There was no question who was in charge.  The process was fast even though the place was frequented by large groups of tourons.  The people on the assembly-line were efficient, courteous, and engaged.

This new place has a totally different feel.  I’m still not exactly sure who is actually running things.  The staff seem to spend a lot of time tripping over and misunderstanding each other and the customers.  They also don’t seem to care all that much.  The line moves very slowly.  And, unlike in my former stomping grounds, here I’ve already seen several customers give up in disgust and simply walk away.

Of course, some of this is probably just my own bias speaking, since I and the staff at my former store got to know each other pretty well (at least by sight) over the years, and here I’m still dealing with a bunch of comparative strangers.  But not all of it:  There’s definitely an objective difference in overall quality, too, and this one isn’t up to the same standard.

What to do?  Well, I continue to think Potbelly sammiches tasty.  That’s why I’ve been going there for so long.  And perhaps once I get used to the new place I won’t notice these things so much.

On the other hand……there’s a Harris-Teeter next door with a big lunch bar about which many of my colleagues are raving.  And with self check-out, you’re not at the mercy of indifferent staff.  Ol’ Robbo’s rule is that Change is Bad, but of course there are always exceptions.  Could this be one of them?

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo is reminded that one of his very first assignments as a very young lawyer mumble-mumble years ago was to help out a Subway franchisee in a spat with the Home World.  I don’t remember what the spat was about, nor do I remember the outcome.  What I do remember is pouring over Subway’s franchise agreement and being astounded at the degree of micromanagement of every aspect of the biznay, right down to the permissible amount of a given condiment per square inch.  It made what the Book of Armaments has to say about the Holy Hand-Grenade of Antioch seem downright vague.  (And no, I’m not linking.  If you don’t get that reference, shame on you.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sometimes the days are random.  Sometimes they’re really random.  I think today goes in the latter class.

♦  Holla! Holla! Watch – Eldest Gel went back to Sweet Briar to start her senior year this morning.  Mrs. R went as well, in part to carry overflow junk in a second car, in part because both of them have been invited to take part in a legacy-recruitment project and the dean of students wanted to have dinner with them.  I think the Gel’s going to have a most-productive year.  And here’s a fun fact for you:  With her move-in today, Eldest is now rooming on the same side of the same hallway of the same dorm as did both Mrs. Robbo and my Sistah (albeit, not at the same time).  I think that’s pretty neat.

♦  Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo had to take Youngest to an oral surgeon for a consultation about having all her wisdom teeth yanked.  We sat in that office for a total of something close to two hours, while the consultation itself took all of five minutes (and was pretty durn expensive, too).  The coming en-yankening is not something I envy her.

♦  Speaking of Youngest, I was surprised to learn today (when it was delivered) that she’d gone out and bought herself a Study Bible.  Apparently, her recent return to our Christian Sports Camp (where she’s applying to be a counselor-in-training next year) really had an effect on her, as she told me today she’s never felt so close to God before.  She plans on doing Young Life at school this year, too.  Go figure.

Not that I’m complaining at all, at all, mind.

♦  And speaking of deliveries, we got a notice today from our homeowner’s insurance carrier that they’re dropping our coverage in a couple months.  They explained that it’s nothing we’ve done, they’re just getting out of the private residential market.  Very strange.  So I suppose I’ll need to shop around now.  We’ve carried our cars with USAA for forever, and I’ve often mused about consolidating homeowner’s coverage with them as well.  This may prove an opportunity.  Of course, any tips or recommendations would be appreciated.

Well, that’s enough.  I suppose I should go see about some din-dins, and then make up my mind whether I want to watch “Casablanca” or “The Brothers Grimm” (which I’ve never seen) this evening.  (Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are playing the Bucs, but there are so many storms in the area this evening the game is likely to get spooled out over many hours and I need my beauty rest.)  “Grimm” was recommended to me by Eldest because she knows of my fondness for Terry Gilliam movies and ones with Jonathan Pryce in them in particular.  If I watch it, I’ll let you know what I think.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other day Verizon upgraded the Port Swiller Manor communications package, giving us not one but two new routers.

My laptop is perfectly fine with the new arrangement, but my phone absolutely hates it.  Tried catching up with Sistah yesterday and even when I found a good reception spot, after a few minutes it would fade out on me again.  Same deal happened when Middle Gel tried to call me to chat.  (On the other hand, I don’t seem to have any problems with either text-messaging or accessing the Innertoobs from it.)

It’s an older iPhone, a hand-me-down from Mrs. R, but I wasn’t noticing any particular problems with it last week before the service upgrade.  Is this issue some kind of clash between levels of technology?  Or is my phone just dying?  I have no idea.

I actually dislike talking on the phone more and more the older I get, but I dislike shouting, “Hello? Hello?? HELLO???” in baffled, futile fury even more.

UPDATE: Oh, and any wag who wants to make a deafness joke here gets a night in the box.  In fact, I am getting deafer, but it’s the kind of deafness where I can’t pick out an individual conversation in a noisy environment like a party.  I’ve seriously started to consider whether a hearing-aid might not be a bad thing to check out.  And yes, you can get off my lawn now.


Recent Comments

rbj1 on Where’s Robbo?
sleepybeth on Where’s Robbo?
Robbo on Where’s Robbo?
Old Dominion Tory on Where’s Robbo?
Old Dominion Tory on Saturday Garden Post – S…

Blog Stats

  • 499,651 hits
August 2019