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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On his lunchtime walkies today, Ol’ Robbo was gratified to look up and spot a bald eagle circling about overhead.

They live along the river but that’s better than a mile from Port Swiller Manor in a straight line and they don’t come out this far as a rule. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever seen one other in the neighborhood in the twenty-plus years we’ve lived here, and that was a good fifteen years ago. (I remember I was teaching Youngest to ride her bike on the sidewalk that day.)

So huzzay, huzzah!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the Thought Police are at it again: James Bond books scrubbed by “sensitivity experts” ahead of 70th anniversary.

All of Fleming’s thrillers — from “Casino Royale” to “Octopussy” — will be re-released this spring after Ian Fleming Publications, the company that owns the literary rights to Fleming’s work, commissioned a review by “sensitivity readers.”

I need not detail what the “review” entails, but you can guess. (Warning: the link is to a NY Post article. I don’t know about you, but their website and all its pop-up ads give my laptop the fits.)

Of course, the number of actual people who would have read Fleming but for his offending language and who will now dash out and scoop in the politickally correct editions is something in the neighborhood of nil, so it need hardly be said that this is an exercise in pure historickal erasure. But I say it anyway. And I hope the publishers take a serious bath on this stunt.

As a matter of fact, while I’ve read some Fleming, I’m not really much of a fan. But rewriting anything in the name of Presentism is inherently evil. And if it does come to personal interest, regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo is fond of Edwardian adventure stories – everything from Kipling to George MacDonald Fraser – and if this trend continues, he knows perfectly well that those authors won’t be “scrubbed”, they’ll be disappeared altogether.

A glass of wine with Sarah Hoyt, whose Shocked Face I borrow so often that I really ought to be paying rent.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

To follow up on the post below, Ol’ Robbo was able to spend about a couple hours cleaning up in the garden yesterday before deciding to call it quits. I managed to cut back maybe half of the butterfly bush before all that repetitive kneeling and standing caught up with me.

I also found that the pair of briar roses on the fence (my cuttings from Sweet Briar College) evidently never got the memo that we were having winter this year: Their stalks were long, twisted into everything, and already leafing out aggressively. Cutting them back and hauling them off proved almost comic in the way they managed to sink their briars into every single portion of Ol’ Robbo that they touched. It was like wrapping myself in a coil of barbed wire.

And speaking of aggressive, a year or two ago I posted about this interloper:

As I recall, we identified it as some sort of invasive Asian vine. (UPDATE: Found the post. It’s Euonymus fortunei, as flagged by long-time friend of the decanter Don. It’s extremely strong and the more mature stalks take on a woody quality. The stuff is all over the place now, not just in the Port Swiller Manor demesne, but around the neighborhood, too. Ol’ Robbo doesn’t much mind it winding around the fence or covering tree stumps, but it also sends horizontal runners along the ground that sneak into areas where they ought not to be. Poking around yesterday, I found that it, too, has not been idle.

So there’s still plenty of work to be done. And that’s even before spring begins.

It’s appreciably colder in these parts today (although the forecast of snow has been changed to rain) and Mrs. Robbo strongly advised that I shouldn’t overdo it by getting out again. For once, I agree with her. So instead, I will content myself with trimming back the porch ferns, which have been quite contently wintering over in the basement.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you following along may be pleased to know that Ol’ Robbo begins to feel definitely better after his nearly month-long bout of the WuFlu. Yesterday I found myself suddenly lucid with respect to my work. I did a few rounds of pushups. I went for a brisk walk. (It didn’t hurt that it was sunny and near 80 degrees out, either.)

It’s always an interesting and pleasurable feeling to be finally on the mend. Didn’t even Tolkien mention it somewhere in The Lord of the Rings? (I think so, although I can’t remember the passage off the top of my head. UPDATE: It comes to me now that it was to do with Eowyn snapping out of it in the House O’ Healing.)

I intend to take advantage of the weather today (we go back to a chance of snow tomorrow) to go out and clean up my garden, a job that is more tedious than strenuous. I reckon the fresh air, sunshine, and light exertion will be beneficial.

Of course, I plan to keep my eyes open lest Eric Idle sneak up behind me and whack me on the back of my head. (And now that I reread this post, I probably should watch out for Bob from the NSA, too, since I’m sure my favorable mention of Tolkien will set off the anti-Right Wing Extremist klaxons at HQ.) We shall see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, but Ol’ Robbo has got absolutely nothing for this Mardi Gras, as I’m still feeling flattened from the ‘vidz.

(Needless to say, I also feel completely unprepared to start Lent tomorrow. I hope He won’t mind too much.)

I must say I’ll be mighty happy to finally shake this thing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is still suffering the lingering effects of his recent bout of the ‘vidz, so decided not to push his luck by trying to go out this morning in the chill air and start clearing out his garden. It can wait another week or two.

In the meantime, however, when I went to check the mail I found that the rain cap had blown off the roof-top HVAC exhaust in yesterday’s wind and been chucked down on to the driveway. I note this simply because it’s such a random thing, one of those little episodes of home-ownership that one doesn’t even think about until it happens.

On closer examination, it appears that the thing was suffering from old age and simply rusted out. Certainly we never replaced it before and for all I know it might have been original equipment.

Now Ol’ Robbo must look into replacing the cap before Port Swiller Manor gets rained on too many more times. In theory, at least, I suppose I could do it myself but I’m sure as heck not climbing all the way up to the top of the roof – from the backside where the exhaust pipe is, it’s three and a half stories up and even typing about it is causing my palms to sweat.

Now, off to find a pro….

UPDATE: On a completely different note, Ol’ Robbo is pleased to announce that some of the goldfinches at his feeder are juuuust starting to show some faint yellow about their bodies. Spring is definitely on its way.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it would appear that, according to the British Government, Frodo Baggins and Aslan are now right-wing extremist triggers:

“There is also a reading list of historical texts which produce red flags to [the Research Information and Communications Unit.].These include Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, as well as works by Thomas Carlyle and Adam Smith. Elsewhere RICU warns that radicalisation could occur from books by authors including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Aldous Huxley and Joseph Conrad. I kid you not, though it seems that all satire is dead, but the list of suspect books also includes 1984 by George Orwell.”

Because why not. I would throw in Waugh, Belloc, Chesterton, and Wodehouse, too. (After all, reading about Bertie Wooster trying to steal the cow-creamer for Aunt Dahlia always turns me into a crazy man.)

Now, just where did I leave my old “Read Banned Books” button?

A glass of wine with Prof. Puppy-Blender.

UPDATE: Ah, go ahead and add Roald Dahl’s original works to that list. Ol’ Robbo admits that he never actually has read any Dahl himself except for his autobiography of his early life as an African Oil agent and a World War II fighter pilot, but I’m strongly tempted to dash out and scoop up copies before his writing is completely sanitized for present-day sensibilities. As is often said, Orwell’s 1984 was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a how-to manual.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over the past week or two Ol’ Robbo has seen mention here and there on the innerwebz of something called Chat GPT.

I looked it up, but the technical mumbo-jumbo used to describe it means nothing to me. All I can gather is that it seems to be some kind of artificial intelligence thingy that will write blogposts, but is evidently already going in the direction of HAL 9000.

I just wanted to assure all you friends of the decanter that such AI will never have a place at this table, that any and all musings, meanderings, and misinformation** you read here will continue to be 100% pure organic, free-range, home-grown musings, meanderings, and misinformation, and that when asked to pass the decanter round, Ol’ Robbo will never, ever say, “I can’t do that, Dave.”

Thank you.

**At least according to some people.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, Ol’ Robbo’s Nats begin spring training today with pitchers and catchers reporting for their first workout. I have to confess that I’m underwhelmed: We lost better than a hundred games last year, and I’ve seen nothing at all during the offseason to make me believe we’re not going to lose better than a hundred more this year. The team remains a bunch of kids and a few has-beens and won’t be anything else until the whole ownership question is resolved and serious money begins to be spent. (True, the bunch of kids in the infield has some real defensive potential, but so long as things are at sixes and sevens they’ll only be traded away once they prove themselves.) Eh.

So I’ll certainly watch the games and may even go to the Park a time or two, but I’ll do so with a “Natitude” of complete fatalism.

And yes, I’d love to be proved wrong.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo sees that MLB continues to gut the game with its rules-changes. So far as I’ve gathered, they’ve made the extra-innings lead-off man on 2nd permanent. They’ve established a pitch clock. The pitcher is now limited to two throw-overs to 1st per batter. The frippin’ bases themselves are now larger. And the shift has been banned. (I say nothing about the reduction of intra-division games because it’s going to be downright painful to see Trey Turner play for the Philthies against us.)

Barbarians drawing grease mustaches and glasses on Rembrandts.

The shift ban is interesting. Personally, I never cared for the strategy myself, usually muttering “Aw, c’mon…” when it was put into effect against a favorite batter. On the other hand, the 10th Amendment fan in me rebels at the League stepping in and taking it away. A manager ought to be able to put his fielders anywhere he wants! Besides, I see this as the thin end of the wedge: Within a few years, don’t be surprised if the rules are changed to require the outfielders to stand still in the exact center of their respective territories until a fly ball hits the ground “in order to improve league batting averages and generate more scoring.” Feh.

Anyhoo, we shall see. Meanwhile, what else is there to say except

Go, Nats.

** That Guy Who Always Thinks It’s Beginning

Non-Insider Baseball UPDATE: The lovely and talented Sleepy Beth reminds me that yesterday was Valentine’s, something we no longer really pay any attention to here at Port Swiller Manor, except that Mrs. R and I did binge-watch a couple of episodes of “Cheers” on Hulu, something we usually reserve for the weekends. Yee-haw.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No work outside for Ol’ Robbo today – I’m still feeling absolutely wiped out from my bout of the ‘vidz. So instead, I am contenting myself with just looking out the window.

Spring draws ever nearer, as the daffodils are shooting up out at the edge of the woods and, in some of the sunnier and more sheltered corners, starting to bloom. I never planted any myself but my old next-door neighbor had a large bed at the back of his yard and over the years they spread themselves in isolated patches downwind.

The robins are back. It’s always lovely first thing in the morning to find the back yard full of them. And I’ve said it before but I will say it here again: Even if it’s not true that when they cock their heads they are listening for worms, it ought to be.

A young hawk had a serious go at the birds round my feeder this morning, but so far as I can tell he didn’t catch anything.

Finally, Mrs. Fox has spent the past couple evenings out in the woods wailing for her demon lover (as the poet-wallah says). If you’ve never heard a vixen calling for her mate, it’s one of the most ungodly noises out there – a high-pitched screaming like a soul in torment. Quite unnerving if you don’t know what it is.

Well, that’s about it for now. Ol’ Robbo needs to go look into finding a replacement for his patio birdbath. When the tree fell on it a couple summahs ago now, it snapped the screw that attaches the bath to its base. I’ve tried various means to stick them back together but all my fixes has proved temporary only and I’m tired of it.

Speaking of birds, I will say here and now that I have no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl tomorrow. I detest the Iggles (and all other things Philadelphia) and although I don’t really follow things, it’s my impression that they’re pretty much unstoppable this year. Feh. (In fact, we were invited to a party and Mrs. R is still planning to go, but I just don’t have the energy. Besides, if our host got any whiff of the fact that I’m just getting over the ‘vidz, he’d have a full-scale panic attack. Not worth it.)

UPDATE: Okay, Ol’ Robbo turned on the teevee to catch the weather forecast and, out of curiosity, flipped over to Fox to see what had happened. There were about three minutes left to go in the game. Guess I missed a humdinger after all. Having a game decided by a last minute penalty isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but I guess those are the breaks. (Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch. HA-ha!)


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February 2023