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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo continues shut down by the ‘vidz, and if I don’t feel much worse than I did when it descended over the weekend, I don’t really feel any better, either. Nothing to do but rest, rest, and rest some more.

In whiling away the time, I naturally fall back on my favorite habit (or vice, if you like) of binge-reading, although for the moment I can only last about twenty or thirty minutes at a go before I need to take off my glasses and close my eyes for a while. Recognizing this, I decided to choose some light stuff, about which I need not think very hard. And since I recently have been working my way through my collection of historickal military fiction, I decided it might be time to revisit Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series.

Boy, did that prove to be a mistake.

Ol’ Robbo has written here before that he believes Mr. Cornwell has a real gift for putting military matters to paper in a manner which brings them alive to the reader, indeed at times rising to genuine heights in his tactical and strategic descriptions. But, like so many other authors who go in for this particular genre (Tom Clancy, Derek Robinson, and the Shaaras, pers et fils, come to mind), he simply cannot write a story around such things. The characters are cardboard, the dialogue is cliched, and the sensationalism is of the clang-clang-clang variety.

Now Ol’ Robbo doesn’t mind this so much in the proper time and place, say when I’m lazing on summah hols with an adult beverage on a porch overlooking Casco Bay, Maine. But when I feel, as an old secretary of mine used to put it, this “hinky”, I just don’t have the patience. Aches and pains are exacerbated, not soothed.

Thus, after running through the first two Sharpe novels and getting increasingly irritated, I’ve now switched over to Something Completely Different in the form of Douglas Adams, who I have not read in a while.

It’s proved a hoopy choice (plus the towel is very handy for wiping the sweat from my fevered brow).

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, guess who has the covidz?

I started feeling crapulous Friday night and it has got steadily worse. At first I thought I was just getting all cranked up because I was supposed to get on a plane this afternoon to go take depositions next week, but Mrs. R finally badgered me into testing this morning. Did it twice, strong positives both times.

I very briefly considered turning a blind eye, but in the end figured it wasn’t worth having my employers come down on my like a thousand of bricks if they ever found out (which is kind of hard cheese since I’m pretty sure I picked it up from going into the office a couple times this week).

So it’s back to bed.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see where the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies are on a collision course, indeed may already be faintly brushing each other’s outer haloes, and will merge into a giant elliptical galaxy in about 5 billion years.

No worries about adjusting yourselves, however, because our own sun will have gone Red Giant and cooked Earth to a cinder a billion years earlier. (I blame glowbull enwarmening.)

But the article doesn’t give up hope:

But by that time, maybe some earthly inhabitants will have become space-faring. Perhaps we’ll have left Earth, and even our solar system. We may still get the view of Andromeda crashing into the Milky Way, just from a slightly different perspective.

Professor Reynolds, is that you?

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo likes to make himself dizzy from time to time pondering interstellar distances and geological time. Here, I get to do both. Win, win!


By the bye, some pretty nice “artist’s renditions” in the article.

UPDATE: Speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo is still waiting for Betelgeuse to go nova, as was teased about three years back now.

**Glares at watch**

I suppose we can blame that disappointment on the covids.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Nope, nothing going on in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor at the moment, but there is a storm rolling into the Ohio Valley, so Ol’ Robbo is fussing from afar on behalf of his progeny in Ohio and Indiana. As I tell the Gels, Midwestern snowstorms deserve a good deal more respect than the usual piffling stuff in our part of Virginny.

I can hear them rolling their collective eyeballs even from here.

Should Listen To Your Old Dad UPDATE: HA! On the phone this afternoon untangling Middle Gel’s travel plans, now impacted by the storm. She was supposed to fly back to Indiana from Texas this evening but her connecting flight got postponed till tomorrow. But tomorrow is going to be pretty awful so I convinced her to stay over another night and get back Thursday. (I hadn’t even known she was in Texas this weekend visiting her Young Man, but that’s a different story.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel returned to school over the weekend and Ol’ Robbo was pleased and proud at how organized she was in getting herself away.

First, she prepositioned all her loot by the Port Swiller Manor front door well in advance, so that when she got home from work Friday night she could immediately load her car for Saturday morning departure. (She’s got an off-campus studio apartment in the High Street which she needed to furnish herself.) I offered to help, but she said it wasn’t necessary.

“Are you all gassed up?”


“And where will you pick up your key if the rental office is closed on a Saturday afternoon?”

“Key’s already in a lockbox hanging on my door.”

“Know the combination?”

“Last four digits of my phone.”

Well, okaaaay, then!

She duly got herself out the door Saturday at Zero-dark-thirty and had an uneventful drive back to Ahia. When she got there, she still had the energy to unload her car and then go off to pick up a new mattress. (Ah, to be young and energetic.)

She even managed to beat a snowstorm which arrived in her neighborhood yesterday, thus causing all the freshmen and sophomores (who were not allowed into the dorms any earlier) much grief.

So, a hitchless return, yes?

Well, almost but not quite.

This morning she called to say she had forgot she needed a residential parking permit and that because her car is registered in my name, I had to send a notarized statement to the town Police Department confirming my ownership and giving the Gel explicit permission to drive and park in the town.


If I’d just taken this in stride, it would have been several days before we could get the thing to her, as I am still very busy. However, since I didn’t want her dinged by continuous tickets in the interim (college-town parking cops are all the same in feasting on students), we instead made a mild scramble to assemble the necessary information, run a notary to earth, and get a presentable form of the doc to her this afternoon.

If this is the worst I ever have to be entangled in sorting out her living arrangements going forward, I will not complain. But still – It’s always something.

UPDATE D’OH!: Got another call from Youngest today. When she went to the Police Department, they told her she didn’t need a permit for her street after all. The requirement is only pertinent to a set of specifically-named streets.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Did you see this latest outrage in a world gone completely insane? The State Department has banned Times New Roman font from its documents, now requiring the use of Calibri instead.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

If my shop did this, I’d send in my papers. I’ve already noticed that Word on my work computer has started defaulting to Calibri, much to my intense annoyance.

What’s next? Comic Sans? Lucida Calligraphy? Emojis?


(A shot of vodka with Stephen Green over at Insty’s place.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry about the dearth of posties the last few days. Far from taking time away from the screen, I’ve instead become a busy, busy bee with work (my other screen) and am likely to stay that way for a while. Thus, posting will prolly be a bit spotty.

Feel free to help yourselves to another glass of port.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

(First, my apologies for the rayther intemperate choice of words in the post below. Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo doesn’t usually use such language here, but sometimes there’s no other way to express scorn and contempt.)

Anyhoo, on to more pleasant subjects.

January is a big birthday month here at Port Swiller Manor, with no fewer than three fifths of the Family Robbo starting yet another orbit round the Sun.

This year is of particular note because Youngest – youngest – Gel is turning 21 this coming week. It’s funny how when the two Elder hit a given milestone I think of it in terms of their advancement in life, while when Youngest brings up the rear I also see it in terms my own self getting older and older. Heigh-ho.

As she is clearing out to head back to school next weekend, we are celebrating this marker this weekend. The lovely and talented bride and daughters of the Former Llama Military Correspondent are coming in to town and I gather there is an agenda for a Girls’ Day Out tomorrow. (The elder LMC daughter may very well be at the same school as Youngest next year, by the bye.)

All in all, Ol’ Robbo is well pleased with Youngest: Her academic performance is steadily improving, her devotion to her job over this break has been impressive, and she’s finally realizing that it’s going to be up to her to make her own nest, as it were, without somebody else handing it to her prefabricated.

My only slight concern at the moment is some of the politickal arguments she’s been bringing up at the dinner table recently. I hardly expect her to be as cranky and skeptical as I am at her stage of life, but I detect in at least a few of her statements the evil influence of the mainstream media, which in my humble opinion is pure poison. I suppose it can’t be helped, and can only hope that I’ve brought her up sufficiently well not to be taken in and stop thinking for herself. On the other hand, she has a reputation as the family practical joker and she may very well just be trolling me in order to get a rise.

At any rate, here’s to Twenty-One: The next great step for the Gel, and the end of an era for her parents! Huzzay, Huzzah!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t have much to say about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s trial-balloon concerning the banning of gas stove-tops except to invite the CPSC to sod off.

In the meanwhile, as a Christmas present to ourselves, Mrs. R and I recently chucked our rackety old toaster/oven and replaced it with a NuWave Bravo XL Air Fryer Oven. It’s rapidly proving to be da bomb. Big and versatile enough that it will be a real aid to me when cooking larger, more complicated dinners. Plus, the “air fry” option makes things like frozen fries and chicken nuggets wonderfully crisper and more tasty.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo caught a bit of the Georgia vs. TCU championship game last evening. Ouch.

My general philosophy regarding college football, which I watch from time to time on a very casual basis, is to cheer for a team with which I have a family connection. Otherwise, I generally find myself rooting for the underdog or whoever is behind when I tune in.

As it happens, I’ve a niece in grad school at Georgia (who is herself a yuge football fan) so have been generally pleased (when I think about it at all) at the Bulldogs’ success. On the other hand, I can’t help smiling at the Horned Frogs’ success this year, which I gather has been something of a fluke. (Certainly TCU is not a name normally associated with championship-caliber ball.)

So overall, I guess I wanted Georgia to win.

However, as I watched, I couldn’t help thinking of that scene in “The Matrix” where the bad guy is dancing about the ship, killing off his colleagues by unplugging their helpless bodies from the interface (or whatever it is). One, just before her death, mutters, “Not like this…..Not like this…..”

That’s rather how I felt. Second look at the mercy rule?


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January 2023