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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Not that I read it on a regular basis anymore, but NRO had an article yesterday about the potential impact of coronapalooza on college attendance this fall, particularly with incoming freshmen.

As regular friends of the decanter know, Youngest is set to start this fall herself.  At first Ol’ Robbo hadn’t believed there would be any issue.  But the panic, hysteria, and outright skullduggery have been far, far worse than I had originally imagined, and we are now coming to see that we may very well need to reassess our options.

Particularly since we’re going to get whanged with out-of-state tuition, the prospect of an “on-line” freshman fall semester has little or no appeal to us.  Nor does the idea of campus opening on time but then being shut down again six weeks later when the inevitable fall flu season starts up.  If we’re expected to shell out that kind of jack, we want the Gel to have the full experience.

One alternative is, of course, to take a “gap” year.  But if she and an appreciable number of other incoming frosh do that, what kind of logistical and financial headaches would it cause the school going forward?  Are they survivable?  And on our end, can she defer and keep her slot?  Or would she have to go around again and compete for a new one?

Another alternative is to do the community college route and then transfer over once (if) things calm down.  The problem with this is that the Gel would wind up eating a part of the campus experience rather than deferring it.  On the other hand, it’d be a lot cheaper.

I’m just muddling these thoughts loosely at this point, and of course our decisions will be based on what her school plans.  It’s a damned shame that she should get caught like this, and it’s positively infuriating to know that such a potential dilemma is so absolutely unnecessary.

UPDATE:  Mrs. R had a chat with the admissions office.  At this point, they’re saying yes, Youngest could take a gap and she wouldn’t lose her slot.  If she does the fall on-line through the school, we’ll get hit with full tuition.  If she decides to do the fall locally, she can transfer credits over and won’t lose her place in the class.   I’m still hoping that this all becomes moot, the quicker the better.

Incidentally, Middle Gel finished her final exam this morning so is now officially a rising junior.  Amazing how fast times go by.

As for Eldest, they’ve officially moved her graduation ceremony to the October long weekend.  (I believe some other schools are doing this, too.)  Not that it matters to her, but her school announced this week that yes, by golly, it’ll be open in the fall, and no, nobody’s going to get sent home again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo went out and bought himself a beard-trimmer this weekend, so I guess I’m all in on the plague times face furniture.  I actually like it.

So far, Mrs. R still hasn’t had much to say about it except she’s started fussing at me about keeping my moustache cut back.  We’ll see how that works out.

On the other hand, I was fool enough the other day to casually mention that maybe I’d let her trim the ducktails at the back of me head.  She’s been chasing me about nearly constantly with a pair of scissors since then, enthusiastically offering to do the sides as well.

I’ve seen the way she trims Decanter Dog.

It isn’t happening.

UPDATE:  Of course Mrs. R gave me the side-eye this morning and said she didn’t like the beard so much.  “It makes you look older,” she said.  I told her that was one of the things l like about it.

I think the real issue is that I haven’t trimmed it at all and it’s sort of spiking out all over the place.  I promised her she’d  like it more once I cleaned it up.

And there the matter stands.  For the moment.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t have many azaleas about the grounds of Port Swiller Manor but he has a few and thought he’d just share a bit of color with you today.  This one is tucked in a corner round the side of the house and yes, I’m watching that ivy like a hawk.






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see today that Our Betters are starting to beat the drum that we should be treating glowbull enwarmening and coronapalooza at the same time and in the same way.

By a staggering coincidence, I already happen to be doing just that thing.

Maybe not the way they’d like, but hey, at least it’s something, right?

UPDATE:  The lovely and talented Sleepy Beth drops a comment on the “Oooh, but economic lockdown is sooo wunnerful for The Environment!!” watermelon** shibboleth.  This happened to come up at dins last evening.  One of the Gels mentioned the (apparently fake) story about dolphins returning to the canals of Venice, to which another immediately replied, “Well, at least the Italians will have something to eat.”

Another Gel remarked that although the folks in India may starve to death, at least they’ll have a nice view of the Himalayas while doing so.

(Heh.  Ol’ Robbo is at least comforted that the apples did not fall very far from his tree.)

Peej O’Rourke, alas, has in the last few years completely lost his mind.  But in what I still consider to be his best book, All The Trouble In The World, he put this biznay very succinctly:  “Communists worship Satan.  Socialists believe perdition is a good system run by bad people.  And liberals think we should go to hell because it’s warm there in the winter.”


Oh, and on the subject of Lefty talking points, we were also discussing the dread Second Wave which apparently is lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce if we dare go back to making a living.  Even Mrs. R, who has been far more cautious than I about things, said. “Look, we’ll just have to man up and trust to heard immunity at that point.”


**Watermelon. Green on the outside.  Red on the inside.

UPDATE DEUX:  Did somebody in the comments mention Metro’s capacity for inconveniencing and irritating people?  Well word breaks this morning that they’re now planning to shut down the whole damn system in my neck of the woods for the entire summah, the better to move forward their revitalization plans.  That’s all well and good while we’re all still under house arrest and there are only a handful of riders, but what the blue blazes do they think will happen when we all get whistled back in to town?  Ol’ Robbo has been itching to break quarantine.  Now?  Not so much.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a few odds and ends not related to The End Of The World As You Know It?

♦  Happy Birthday to HRH Queen Elizabeth II!  She’s a good Sheila, Bruce, and not a’tall stuck up.

♦  Today is the traditional anniversary of the founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 B.C.

♦  Somebody on a comment thread somewhere yesterday made mention of the fact that “Ctrl +” will enbiggen your computer screen.  I had not known that.  My tired old  eyes have been thankful ever since.

♦  Speaking of computers, I become increasingly convinced that my work Skype is spying on me.  Sure, I’ve got a piece of duct tape over the camera lens, but how do you shut off the mic?

♦  Of course, the only thing it would hear, mostly, is my streaming of the local classickal musick station.  The past day or two, I’ve had Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 (the “Little C-major”) running through my braims.  I’m reasonably positive that the “Da-Da-Da-Dum” motif he uses in the 3rd movement Presto (especially at the section closes) is a direct nod to Ol’ Ludwig Van.

♦  I must confess that I’ve been indulging in Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series of late.  This is a sort of masochistic exercise for me, as I consider his characters to be cardboard and his style sensationalist.  But he’s so very, very good at describing Napoleonic battle maneuvers…..

So I’ve got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees he hasn’t posted in a few days.  My apologies.  I fell off my exercise schedule the middle of last week and as a consequence came down with a touch of cabin fever.  When Robbo gets the blahs, his Muse takes a powder.

Anyhoo, here we are again.

Ol’ Robbo got eaten alive by gnats while out mowing the lawn this weekend.  I simply do not recall such a dense and aggressive swarm about my face before.  Was it the attraction of my house-arrest beard?  Or was it glowball enwarmening?  Either way, we’re all dead.

On that front, I notice that my neighbor has started feeding a fox that lives just inside the tree line behind us.  I’m not sure what to think about this.  On the one hand, I like to see the fox.  On the other, there is always the rabies concern.  I don’t want Decanter Dog to have an Old Yeller Moment.

Speaking of rabies, for the past five weeks now Ol’ Robbo’s only excursions out into the world have been his weekly runs to the grock store and Total Bev to get in weekend dins and fresh supplies of the needful.  At the store, I’d say about ninety percent of the customers are wearing masks these days.  I don’t.  I’m getting so browned off that I find myself almost disappointed that no Karen has hissed at me about it.

And speaking of excursions, I would note that Middle Gel snapped her fingers at Kommissar Northam and went to visit a school friend a couple hours away this weekend.  We at Port Swiller Manor have a baaaad feeling that he’s going to be one of the very last holdouts regarding the lifting of the police state.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved to shorten the Commonwealth’s motto to “Semper Tyrannis” and reversed the positions of the figures on our flag.  How on earth did we ever saddle ourselves with such a monster?

Whelp, that’s enough to get things going again, I believe.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention – On a sunnier note, I got a call from my parish office Friday.  They were just calling round to check up on folks and see how they’re doing.  It actually made my day.  (The better news, according to the nice lady with whom I chatted, is that our flock seems to be in good shape, and that family and friends are looking out for one another.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that the phrase “the new normal” is starting to pop up with increasing frequency.  I heard it on some teevee ad last evening and saw this morning quotes from several Blue State satraps employing it.  And now at work.

Ol’ Robbo hates this phrase.

It seems to me pretty clear that whatever the medical origins of the current unpleasantness may have been, the thing has morphed almost entirely into a politickal will to power matter now.  So far as I can see, “the new normal” translates into “our boot on your neck”.

Ol’ Robbo really hates this phrase.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter, especially those couple of you who have actually met me in meatspace, may be interested to know that Ol’ Robbo crossed the Rubicon today with respect to his plague beard by going over to the devil’s website and investing in an electric trimmer kit.  It’s got to the point where I need either to clean the thing up or to get rid of it, so I decided to go all in.  “YOLO”, as the Boomers like to say.  (They’re more right than they realize, by the bye, only not in the way they think.)

Now it just may be a cowinkidink, or it may be one of those tiny, gossamer threads in the Great Plan, but while I was at said website, I noticed a book served up on my recommendations list: On Faith: Lessons From An American Believer by Antonin Scalia.  I’ve learned to act on these little promptings (or, if you want to put it that way, am easily subject to temptation), so I immediately snapped it up.

Justice Scalia and I attended the same Mass for almost ten years, and while I never spoke to him one on one, I did sometimes hang about in post-Mass circles when he hobnobbed with the Padre.  I’d no idea he’d written a book about it all, but I can’t say I’m particularly surprised.  I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve read it.  (As an aside, I may say here that I find myself dancing with frustration every time the Scalia-Was-Murdered meme bubbles up on the comment boards I follow.  The man was in obviously declining health towards the end and I used to marvel that he still managed to keep himself going when I saw him.)

I notice that the book comes with a forward by Scalia’s son, Fr. Paul Scalia.  He was our parish priest for a while and still subs now and again.  One of my fondest memories is of the time he thoroughly spiked Eldest, who was a middle-schooler (in every vile sense of the word) at the parish academy and thought she saw an opening to get me.  We were talking together (I forget what occasion) when the Gel suddenly blurted out, “Faaaather! My dad says there are Baseball Gods!”

Without missing a beat, Fr. Paul said, “Of course there are Baseball Gods.”

The look on the Gel’s face was priceless.  Heh.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’ll let you know what I think of the book.

UPDATED:  Well, I cancelled the trimmer, as the devil’s website informed me it would take a month to get here and I anticipate returning to the office before then.  I’ll just go pick one up at Tarjay or somewhere.  The book will take a month, too, but I can wait on that.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and Happy Easter!  He has risen, indeed!

I hope all you friends of the decanter managed to make the best of things.  Ol’ Robbo duly dialed into his church’s livestreamed solemnities,  If this house-arrest nonsense keeps up much longer, he’s going to have to look into investing in a prie-dieu, because the joints do not take kindly to prolonged kneeling on the floor these days.  (Yes, I am as participatory as possible.  I couldn’t imagine just sitting there and watching passively.)

I’ve never used livestream before and didn’t realize that the feed keeps track of the number of users watching it.  I found myself somewhat amused that even in the Virtual Church there were still people sneaking in late.  (After my initial reluctance, I think I’m going to keep it up, by the way.  No doubt this will go down on my permanent record at the NSA.)

Easter Dinner was another casualty of coronapalooza in that with the cancellation of planned visits by my brother’s family and my cousin, I didn’t have the critical mass of lamb-lovers necessary to justify my doing up a nummy rack of same.  (My own household have no interest in it whatever, the cretins.)  I couldn’t find a roast anywhere, and as none of us care for ham we simply settled for a nice steak dins.  (I did do popovers and asparagus by way of celebration.)  Correspondingly, we didn’t bother with breaking out the good china and silver or dressing formally, but instead were fairly casual.  At least it was a nice evening to eat outside.

Saturday afternoon found Ol’ Robbo in something of a bind.  (I told you this is a random post.)  One of the upstairs “shutters” blew off Port Swiller Manor during a recent bout of wind.  Since I don’t happen to own a long ladder, I had mentally filed the matter away as something to deal with in the Undefined Future.  But as I lay in the hammock letting my mind drift, Mrs. R suddenly appeared and announced that our neighbor does have one, and that he was out front with it.  Regular readers will know of my deep-seated fear of heights, and I am here to tell you that being two stories up on a shaky ladder did nothing at all to allay it.  But what else could I do except go through with it?  When I got down, somewhat pale and gasping, and thanked my neighbor, he said if the shutter comes off again I am welcome to use the ladder.  “Heck,” I replied, “If it comes off again, I’m just going to sell the house!”

Well, that’s about it for now.  I’ve the feeling that nothing much is going to happen this week and that we will continue to muddle along in the new status quo.  (Wasn’t last week supposed to be Peak Plague, by the bye?  Where are all the bodies? I was told there would be bodies stacked like cordwood.)  So Ol’ Robbo will continue to muddle as well.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to pack it in here for the Triduum, but before I go I just wanted to mark down the fact that last evening we had just about the nicest family dins either Mrs. R or I can remember in a very long time.

It was a lovely, lovely spring day in these parts yesterday and, in keeping with our habit of doing so whenever we are able to, we had said dins out on the porch.

We had just learned that one of my Godparents’ grandsons is going to be a classmate of Youngest Gel this fall.  (As an aside, the kid is extremely good looking and comes from a rock-ribbed conservative background.  Youngest doesn’t really know him except by way of some Instagram connection, but we’ve assured her it’s perfectly fine to reach out at this point and say hey.  It is at times such as these that Ol’ Robbo’s thoughts turn to the merits of arranged marriages.)

Anyhoo, based on this nooz the conversation naturally swung toward college life and what Youngest could expect in the fall.  And it was so very nice to sit back and listen to her elders giving advice, recalling anecdotes of their own experiences, and generally being Big Sisters.  It was perhaps even nicer that Youngest didn’t balk, but instead listened thoughtfully and asked questions.  No snark.  No cat-fighting.  No one-upmanship.  Heck, I didn’t even get the impression that anyone was bored.

I dunno what was in the air, but I wish I could bottle it.  If nothing else comes out of this whole wretched (and increasingly phony) coronapalooza panic, at least we had that.

Whelp, as I say, I’ll be out the next few days trying to salvage Easter as best I can.  I’ll see you all on the other side.


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April 2020