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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see that today is National Coffee Day.

Must Ol’ Robbo say it again? Every day is Coffee Day. You may as well have a “day” designated for oxygen.

A fun fact: The Port Swiller Manor kitchen actually contains not one, not two, but three different coffee-makers. Mrs. R has her Keurig, into which she sometimes pops little cups of what I can only consider heresy; Ol’ Robbo has his single-cup Ninja with the cold-brew option for those hot summah days; and we still keep the traditional Mr. Coffee 12-cup pot against the increasingly unlikely possibility that we entertain ever again.

And my go-to bean? The Mayorga Cafe Cubano dark roast. Oh, you betcha. Rich and strong. Otherwise, what’s the point?

All that said, I actually drink rayther less coffee than I used to. Back in the day I could knock back three or four big cuppas before mid-morning and be thinking about another pot. Now? I barely finish my second. (Hence the utility of the Ninja and why Mr. Coffee has been benched.)

Of course, even though my intake is less these days, if you try to come between my coffee and me you’re still going to lose an arm.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This past Saturday evening, Mrs. Robbo and I went out to dinner, just the two of us.

This is somewhat newsworthy in and of itself because I believe the last time we did it was some time early last winter.

Unfortunately, both because we didn’t get the idea until early Saturday afternoon, and because I am currently barred from establishments demanding vax papers, our options were necessarily limited. (I should note here that even after I get such papers foisted on me, I will not patronize such establishments. Uncle can force this biznay on me because of the hardship my family would suffer if I lose my job but I’m not going a single inch further than absolutely necessary.)

Aaaaanyway, we wound up at an “Italian” place in the new urban sprawl which is replacing the old suburban sprawl with frightening speed along the pike not far from Port Swiller Manor. What was once a succession of strip malls and car dealerships is rapidly transmogrifying into hip high-rises with posh shops and dining establishments on their ground floors. Indeed, Ol’ Robbo hates to venture over there because every time he does something else has changed the shape of the landscape and he gets discombobulated.

Mrs. R wanted to sit outside because it was such a lovely evening. I didn’t mind, but really, urban sidewalk dining isn’t Robbo’s thing. It would, of course, make a difference if I were looking out at, say, the dome of St. Paul’s, or the Louvre, or even Capitol Hill. But when the only thing across the street is another high-rise, with a fish taco restaurant and an eyeglasses place at street level, and a wall plastered with a piece of “urban art” of the sort I loathe, well……

Then, of course, there is the succession of cars endlessly circling past in search of parking spots. And from somewhere round the corner came a steady thumpa-thumpa-thumpa, which was either a street performance or somebody’s car stereo, I couldn’t tell which.

But what about the people-watching, you might ask? Well, again, urban hipster-doofus couture is not a big favorite of mine. Also, I guess it must have been homecoming weekend somewhere round here, because at one point a party of about a half-dozen high school girls hove into view wearing fancy dresses so short that if Ol’ Robbo were Emperor, I’d have had the lot of them arrested for public indecency.

As much as I enjoyed our dinner (the pizza was actually quite good), I definitely felt a sense of relief when we had left the concrete jungle and slid back into our quiet, leafy suburb.

I mentioned this to my brother yesterday. He said that he and his wife felt the same way, which was why they almost exclusively go with takeout from their favorite restaurants now. As he pointed out, not only is the ambiance quieter and the service better, the wine is always cheaper.

Sound reasoning.

(That said, Mrs. R and I have decided to make the effort to dine out once a month going forward, largely so that I don’t become completely moss-covered. With enough lead-time, we hopefully should be able to find more congenial venues.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The Port Swiller Manor porch thermometer hit 50 degrees this morning and Ol’ Robbo is loving it.

Of course, I forgot to turn on the heat last evening as I usually do at the beginning of the season. You’d think the wimminfolk here had been banished to Siberia by the volume of their complaints.

I noted just now a hummingbird at the feeder, so they evidently haven’t left yet. I expect that will happen pretty soon.

I guess the tempest we had the other day when the cool weather came in was stronger than I had realized because I had a considerable amount of timber to clean up out front. One good-sized maple branch managed to fall so that its base got stuck in a fork of the trunk while its ends fell on top of my holly hedge, thus hanging a Sword of Damocles about twelve feet over the sidewalk. I couldn’t cut it in the middle because I couldn’t reach it, but I finally got it down by cutting the ends back with a pole-trimmer then getting a nylon strap that’s been sitting in my garage untouched for about ten years around the thing and dragging it sideways off the top of the hedge. (The moral of this story is, of course, the importance of never, ever throwing anything away because you never know when you might need it.)

Speaking of which, now that it’s cooler, I don’t have any more excuses for putting off chopping up all those logs I have thanks to the big tree that came down this past summah, of which regular friends of the decanter will recall my posting here. I’ve got a wedge and a sledgehammer, but that inner voice which keeps whispering that I’m not a kid anymore is suggesting I just go see about renting a hydraulic splitter instead. Eh, we’ll see.

Well, I see where the temperature has now climbed up into the mid-60’s. Time to open all the windows and then go for a walk.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In keeping with the theme of turbulent weather from the post below, torrential rains in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor overnight coupled with early fallen leaves equaled a clogged field drain and water ponding into the garage, which in turn meant Ol’ Robbo’s basement study was flooded yet again.


We’ve been putting off having somebody come and sort this biznay out. It occurred to me whilst chewing on it again that in fact there’s really no good reason why I probably couldn’t do it myself, either in part or in whole. I can certainly tear out the drywall, try to spot the entry point(s), and slap some of Phil Swift’s Flex-Seal all over it. As far as putting it all back together, I’ve never hung new drywall myself, but I can’t imagine it’s all that complicated. (And, of course, DIY is always so much cheaper.)

I mean, I’m not missing something here, am I?

UPDATE: I put the idea to Mrs. R this evening. Her initial response was, “While you’re at it, can you also do……” followed by a laundry list of very tangentially-related tasks. Typical wifely gambit, but I’m plenty experienced enough to slip right past it.

When I steered her back to the original idea, she said, “Well, sure, why not? It’s already a mess. How much worse could you make it?” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Ol’ Robbo’s carpentry skills, but she does have a point.

Demo (the fun part) will begin once the floor has dried out.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Autumnal Equinox!

Yes, as regular friends of the decanter have read ad nauseum here over the years, fall really is Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season.

On the one hand, I’m grateful for finally being released from the stagnant torpor of summah, which I truly despise. (Hopefully, this will translate into posts here actually worth reading. I feel like I’ve simply been drooling for the past few months.)

On the other, I just love the feel of the season: the sometimes turbulent weather and gradually dropping temperatures, the drawing in of the days, and the overall sight, sound, and smell of Ma Nature putting up the shutters and getting ready to settle in for the long sleep.

Of course, I love the exact opposite feel in spring, so it’s actually a fairly close call as to which one I like more in and of itself. Put in context, however, the tie goes to fall due to my above-noted detestation of summah. One can’t help remembering, even while in the midst of enjoying the delights of spring, to what it inevitably leads. Granted, fall also leads to winter, but I generally don’t get tired of winter until pretty late in the season, while I’m sick of summah after the first few days. So again, advantage autumn.

I fully recognize that this calculation is partly, maybe even mostly, based on my being located in the Mid-Atlantic region. As much as I remember enjoying winter in Connecticut when I was in school, I bet I’d like it a lot less nowadays and fall would be much more of a harbinger. Conversely, the shorter hot weather season might not be so bad.

And of course the math is completely meaningless with respect to the South Texas of my misspent yoot, where we more or less had ten and a half months of summah alternating with about six weeks of not quite summah. (Which is a large part of why I hate summah so much.)

Well, whatever. I’m just glad that fall is here again.

UPDATE: I mention turbulent weather. Well, we’ve had some of just that here today. It seems that Decanter Dog is now afraid not only of lightning and thunder, but of simple wind gusts as well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yep, it’s that time of year. Pumpkin-spice “creamer” has made its way into the fridge.

The very idea makes my stomach turn.

And it’s not even real “creamer”, but instead is “almond milk”, whatever that is.

And it’s not just “almond milk”, but pretentious “almond milk”. One side of the carton proclaims in big, bold lettering: WE BELIEVE In Making DELICIOUS PLANT-BASED FOOD That Does Right By You And FUELS OUR PASSION FOR THE PLANET To Make Your Journey SMOOTH”.

Core lumme, stone the crows.

Mrs. R was mighty puzzled when I opened the fridge this morning, spotted the carton, and said, “Well bless your hearts.”

But I meant it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been puzzled of late as to why clumps of insulation have been turning up on and around his back patio. Today, I discovered the answer. A party of young squirrels has discovered a gap under the roof of Port Swiller Manor and are taking up residence in the attic. The deposits of insulation seem to be the by-product of their back and forth up the drainpipe and through the gap between the roof and the fascia. (I saw them myself this afternoon nosing in and out of the crack.)


Part of me says this is one of those homeowner problems to which prudence (and the jolly old wallet) would suggest turning a blind eye. I mean, propriety says get the infestation out instanter, but really, what harm can they do? Another part of me regrets that I don’t own a BB-gun. We used to pot squirrels and unauthorized birds at my parents’ bird-feeder back in the day. Great fun.

The other thing that I notice is that the stink bugs are back in force. Seemingly overnight they are swarming on the screens in and out of the house. They haven’t been around long enough for Farmers’ Almanac-type wisdom to kick in, so I’ve no idea what such an infestation may mean this early and with the weather still this warm, but I’d like to think it’s a portent of a cold, snowy winter, of which we’ve not had in the neighborhood in several years and which we’re about due.

(If said prognostication proves true and Ol’ Robbo starts griping here about having to deal with it, feel free to refer back to this post and mock me with it.)

***I won’t play “spot the reference” here because the name was only a meangingless innerwebze meme without background to me until I looked it up myself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo learns that Youngest Gel is applying for a part-time job at the local bagel & deli shop near her campus. (Happy, happy time for me and my wallet!)***

The place, I gather, is something of a local landmark. Mrs. R was perusing their FAQ page last evening, which is generally a hoot, but drew my attention specifically to this one:

I’m going to be a first year at Miami next year. Can I have a job?

  • First of all, you are not a first year, you are a freshman and no, you cannot have a job. Generally we don’t hire freshman. If we do, it is not until second semester is about ½ way over. College is a big adjustment and if your grades are not up to your (or your parents) expectations the first thing to go is usually the job. We like our employees to stick with us until they graduate and this is one of our ways of ensuring that they do. (By the way, it is generally the partying and not the job that contributes to the not so great grades.)

As I say, heh.

Ol’ Robbo tends to get caught up in the endless headlines concerning the corruption, debauchery, and decay of our institutions, and to forget that there is still a good-natured, common-sensical spirit out there. It’s nice to come across these little reminders from time to time.

Hope she gets the job.

*** In fact, all three of the Gels have really become more money-conscious in recent years, even after having had rather comfy yoots. Middle Gel is actually holding down two part-time jobs this year, one on-campus and the other off, even on top of a whole host of other activities plus gearing up grad school applications. It is most gratifying to see that they finally understand the stuff doesn’t grow on trees. (And now I suddenly realize I’ve become the Old Gentleman: When we were high school kids, he presented us with inspirational posters featuring hoity-toity types leaning against Rolls-Royces and sipping bubbly. The caption read “Poverty Sucks”.)

UPDATE: She got the job. Base pay isn’t much but she can make bank on tips, especially on the late shift after all the bars shut down. Aaaand, if she sticks with it, the place is literally a block down the street from the studio apartment for which she’s already signed a lease for next year. (Most upperclassmen at the Gel’s school live off campus but you have to make your arrangements well in advance. She took care of this all by herself. How satisfying it is to see the fledglings leave the nest and start flapping about under the power of their own wings.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo stumbled across “The Paper Chase” (1973) on TCM last evening. I’d never actually seen the movie before but I was a big fan of the teevee series back in my yoot and would be a liar if I said it didn’t have any impact on my own decision to go to law school.

The movie is kind of awful in its early-70’s look and feel but, like the teevee series, does get some things right about the life of a newbie law student. (At least as it still was 30-odd years ago. My eldest niece is a 1L this year and I’ll be curious to pick her brain about what they’re teaching the kidz these days when I see her at Thanksgiving.)

One of the things that made me smile was when Mr. Haaaart mused about the division of his classmates into categories. There were those who hoped to sneak through class un-noticed and uncalled. There were those fully prepared for a Socratic cross-examination but who kept quiet until called. There were those who volunteered answers and wrangled with the profs. (Mr. Haaaart wanted to be one of the third category.)

At least in my own experience, this was perfectly correct. The vast majority of us fell into the second category. A few lunatics and misfits would show up unprepared, to be occasionally caught and humiliated.*** Then there were the go-getters.

Ol’ Robbo went to a very small school. (I think my class graduated something like 114 altogether.) This meant that everybody knew everybody. Collegiality was strongly encouraged while cut-throat competitiveness was frowned upon. In class, this manifested itself in a game called Asshole Bingo. Somebody would print up and distribute bingo cards with class-member names instead of numbers. If during class somebody volunteered an answer or opinion, you checked off their name on your card. If you got a complete row, in order to win you had to volunteer yourself and somehow incorporate the word “bingo” into your comments.

It proved to be quite entertaining.

There was in particular a trio of students known as the “Three Amigos”. They were far and away the worst of the classroom show-boaters and pretty generally disliked, not just because of their hyper-aggressiveness but also because as often as not it was so useless. (One of them picked a fight with a prof’s bail hearing hypo over whether a Learjet had the range to fly from Roanoke, Virginny to Rio without stopping to refuel. Another got into a spat with a different prof over the correct pronunciation of “gaol”. The third had come from a career in local teevee news and posed every question as if she were Sam Donaldson trying to catch out President Reagan in a lie.) If you managed to get a card with all of their names on it, you knew you would coast to victory.

Good times. Good times.

***This happened to Ol’ Robbo exactly once. My first year crim pro professor was a legendary Socratic terror. Nonetheless, I gave into temptation and went on a Mardi Gras barhop instead of prepping. Sure enough, he skinned me properly next morning. I’d had a feeling it would happen and said so several times over the course of the evening. To this day I’m convinced one of his upper class students overheard me and tipped him off. (As I say, everybody knew everybody. A real fishbowl.)

Burying the lede UPDATE: I forgot to mention that, substantively, “Paper Chase” tracked very closely with my own experience of contract law class. In fact, the very first case we noobies faced was the “Hairy Hand” case, Hawkins v. McGee, 84 N.H. 114, 146 (S.P. N.H. 1929).**** Fellah contracts with a surgeon to graft some of his chest skin on to his burnt hand. The graft sprouts hair. Hy-larity ensues. Looking back now, it strikes Ol’ Robbo that this is something of a screwball to serve up to innocents looking to master the basic concepts of offer, acceptance, and consideration, but what do I know? But I bring it up mostly because I’m reasonably sure this same case came up early on in teh “Paper Chase” series, and that I recall being delighted by this fact when I got my first assignment in skool.

No, I’m not a nerd. Shut up.

BTB, I pulled my contracts textbook to look this up. Prolly the first time I cracked it in 30-mumble years. I always bought used textbooks. Skimming back through it, damme if I can tell which were my own annotations and notes, and which were those that came with it when I bought it.

****The Blue Book Nazis can go to hell.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, yes, I’m around. I’ve just not had much materialize in my braims to pass on to you over the past few days. Let’s see what we can do even without….

For those of you interested, yes, Ol’ Robbo is directly affected by the jab-mandate that issued Friday. Alas, I’m hardly in a position to draw myself up, snap my fingers under the boss’s nose, and declaim “Be damned to you and to this job!” I’ve still got some weeks before I actually have to do anything about it and am holding out hope that the whole biznay will collapse under its own politickal weight and go away before then. (A scenario not quite outside the realm of possibility.)

Meanwhile, we continue to chug along. The last few days have been so warm and languid in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor that I’ve caught myself routinely checking Decanter Dog and the kittehs, sprawled about on the porch soaking it all in, to make sure they’re all still breathing.

And speaking of breathing, I’m here to tell you that I am no fan of ragweed season. Geh.

How about a couple film quick hits? Over the weekend, Ol’ Robbo watched “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” (1935). I’ve an idea I’d seen it before but couldn’t remember. It presses all the right buttons for anyone liking unapologetic British India: tent-pegging, the Great Game (complete with native disguises), and hordes of badmashes howling down the pass. The only awkward bit was the tedious explanations as to why the three main characters, officers in a British lancer regiment, all had American accents. (Gary Cooper was the star.)

I also watched “3:10 to Yuma” (1957). I’d seen it before and remembered it to be good, but I’d forgotten just how good it is. Glenn Ford’s Ben Wade must be one of the most appealing yet scary bad guys in all of the western genre, and the mental fencing he and Van Heflin’s Dan Evans engage in is really quite thrilling. The story and acting are so enjoyable that one is quite ready to ignore some cinematic howlers, including telephone poles in the distance and an opening credits sequence featuring a stagecoach dashing across the desert under an sky featuring a quite prominent con-trail.

Whelp, Ol’ Robbo warned you. Just not much else to say at the moment. (At least out loud.)


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September 2021