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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Suspecting, not without reason, that if left to himself Ol’ Robbo would never get round to it, Mrs. R signed me up for my annual (well, it’s probably now triennial or quadrennial) checkup the other day.

As you might gather, I’m not fond of my current doctor. She’s a scold. Coffee? Bad. Meat? Bad. Wine? Baaaaaad. At my last visit, about the only vice she couldn’t find in me was free-basing heroin. Also, she both over-diagnoses and over-prescribes. Pills, pills, and even more pills. This is contrary to my personal philosophy that the taking of medicine should be restricted to the absolute minimum necessary. (The Old Gentleman was a doctor and so is my brother, so I grew up with no illusions about what it can and cannot do.)

So why do I stay with her? Shear inertia. Plus, I admit I’m getting to the age where building up a baseline relationship makes more and more sense, and I shouldn’t be hopping about. (Alas, my previous doc, with whom I’d been a long time and did like, switched to a concierge practice and relocated to extremely inconvenient new digs.)

The good news is that the checkup couldn’t be scheduled any earlier than the end of April, so I’ve got that long to get into some serious training. At least I’ve got a good motivator.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you keeping track of such things will be pleased to learn that Youngest Gel successfully drove herself back to Ohio yesterday, even dealing calmly with a snowstorm that caught her between Morgantown, WV and Columbus. She checked in with us at various breaks and, I suppose fortunately, in that it spared me additional worry, didn’t mention the snow until after she’d cleared it. I may say that I’m rayther proud of her.

The Gel stalled around quite a bit about heading back to school. First it was going to be Thursday. Then Friday. Then 5 ack emma Sunday. Then 8 am, when she finally left. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be at school and wouldn’t enjoy it once she was back, just that she felt it took so much more energy to motivate herself to start the journey than it did when she came home before Christmas. I guess she just hasn’t broken away quite yet.

Ol’ Robbo still distinctly remembers his own “break point”, if you will. It was Christmas vacation my junior year. One afternoon a couple of days before I flew back to school, I suddenly had the oddest sensation. Looking about the house, I realized, “This is all ending. In a very short time, I’m not going to live here anymore. Life as I’ve known it up till now is going to change. Forever.” The shock of it all made me sit down hard, and I’m not sure there weren’t a few tears, too. From that point forward, even when I came home for the summah, I always felt more like a visitor than an inmate.

As I say, Youngest isn’t there yet. (Middle Gel is, I believe. Eldest is working from home at the moment, but there may be some news about that in the near future.)

By the bye, Youngest was teasing me about the drive. She’s already picked up the sensible habit of stopping at familiar waypoints for gas and food, but she stops three different times on the eight-hour trip. And not only that, but she actually goes in and sits down for ten or fifteen minutes to rest, fiddle with her phone, and whatnot. “That would drive you nuts, wouldn’t it,” she laughed. You’re durn right it would.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A balmy 12 degrees above on the Port Swiller Manor porch thermometer this morning, and not for the first time these past couple weeks. Ol’ Robbo recalls now that the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a chilly winter in the East this year. Evidently, they knew what they were talking about. At least it’s sunny and calm today, as the latest threatened nor’easter decided to move out to sea instead of up the coast. (They’re already talking about the possibility of another one sometime next week.)

Fortunately, there’s really not much that needs doing outside these days, so I need not venture out much except to let Decanter Dog out and in. I’ve noticed that she seems positively indifferent to temperature and, much to my irritation, will sometimes loiter about on the porch even in artic conditions while I try to shoo her back into the house after her biznay is done. This contrasts completely with her attitude toward precipitation: She loathes the rain and sometimes almost literally needs to be kicked down the back stairs in it. (On the other hand, she adores snowfall. Go figure.)

This also contrasts with Decanter Kitten, who always insists on going on the porch when I let DD out. She’s intensely sensitive to the cold. As soon as she realizes how chilly it is, she makes a bee-line back to the door. I don’t much understand this, as she’s a Maine coon and has a long, very thick coat. Nor do I understand why hot weather doesn’t seem to bother her much. But there it is. (Decanter Cat, who is a short-haired tabby, avoids going outside altogether when it’s even a bit chilly but will bask in the heat of summah all day. This, at least, makes some sense to me.)

Anyhoo, here it is near the end of January and Ol’ Robbo is already craving the return of warmer air. This “sick of it” date seems to creep farther forward each year with me.

Ex “Post” Facto UPDATE: Garn, I typed too soon! I’d just settled in with a fresh cuppa kawfee and Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time when I was gently reminded by Mrs. R that she’d made an appointment to take her Honda Juggernaut in for service and I’d promised to tag along and give her a ride home. So much for my hibernal plans.

On the other hand, it got closer to the freezing mark this afternoon than I’d anticipated, so as I was oot and aboot anyway, I harnessed and coated Decanter Dog and took her for a long walk in the woods. It was enjoyable.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Lynx-eyed Mrs. R brought this item to Ol’ Robbo’s attention: Fairfax County Public Schools curriculum employing “privilege bingo”. I won’t go into the details here, but it’s exactly what it sounds like. Thank Heaven the Gels are all up and out of all that. (I’m sure they were never actually subjected to this sort of thing themselves: They would have been outraged, and we certainly would have heard about it.)

Two things strike Ol’ Robbo here. First, if any good can be said to have come out of these last two wretched years of house arrest, I think it lies in the great awakening parents are experiencing regarding what the kidz are actually being “taught” in the schools. For a long time, I believe there was a certain level of complaisant trust that the system had the kidz’ best interest in mind and was doing the right thing by them. All the recent “on-line learning” has ripped the curtain away for many.

Second, according to the article FCPS is pushing back with a response that amounts to “Nekulturny kulaks! How dare you question what we put in your children’s heads or how!” I’m seeing this same line being used elsewhere, too, and it strikes me as completely tone-deaf. (I’m sure newly-not-Governor Terry McAuliff would agree with me about that now.) But it also strikes the optimist in me (yes, there is one) as perhaps a sign of fear and panic now that the jig is, as it were, up. It is just possible that the pendulum has swung about as far as it’s going to go and is fixing to start back in the other direction. We shall see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other evening, Ol’ Robbo was standing at the top of the back stairs waiting for Decanter Dog to finish up her biznay in the yard and idly scanning the sky overhead when I suddenly realized that one of the stars was moving, heading calmly and steadily in a southeasterly direction.

Whatever it was, it definitely was not a meteor, nor was it any kind of commercial aircraft. My guess is that it was an artificial satellite of some sort, and my further guess is that it was the International Space Station. (Is there anything else in orbit actually visible to the naked eye?)

I’ve been poking about on the innertoobs to try and verify this. Alas, the only tracking tools I’ve found tell me where the thing is right now, not 36 hours ago. On the other hand, they confirm that the general direction and speed of what I saw makes an ISS-sighting perfectly plausible. I hope so.

Speaking of which, I was watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel last evening about the history of the planet. (The show purports to rely a lot on “new satellite evidence”, which is the link here.) It was the first episode of a series (called something like “The Life of Earth”) and sought to squash the first 4.5 billion years of Earth history into 50 minutes of programming, a very daunting task. What came across when the timeline was so sped up was how often and violently the planet’s atmosphere changes, both in terms of temperature and even composition. I had to chuckle a bit: Among massive volcanic activity, periodic asteroid collisions, and the overspreading of single-celled photosynthetic-based organisms mucking it about, our own presence in the mix, even if you buy into the worst of teh climate-alarmist rhetoric, seems comparatively tiny and insignificant.

The show was also refreshingly neutral, with no apparent politickal axe to grind. However, as I say this was the first episode. The rest of the series evidently deals with the rise and spread of Mankind. I’m sure in the end all the Bad Things will turn out to be our own damn fault after all.

UPDATE: Which reminds me, I saw this article the other day: NASA turns to religious scholars to prepare humanity for alien contact. (The tone is surprisingly unlike Oolon Colluphid’s blockbuster trilogy, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway?) I suppose if you’re like the kid who lived across the street from me in my yoot who routinely brought round pamphlets “proving” dinosaur bones are elaborate fakes, such contact would be difficult to comprehend. As an ardent admirer of C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy, Ol’ Robbo says, “Moar, faster, please!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The Family Robbo had a hearty laugh at the dinner table over this one last evening: “UCLA Scientists Studying ‘Inequality’ Among Animals“. No, it’s not the Babylon Bee, which was Eldest Gel’s first question. Per the article:

According to the Washington Free Beacon, these studies first began with a group of behavioral ecologists at UCLA who “saw how COVID-19 was highlighting health disparities and other inequalities around the world,” and eventually “began to wonder if they could learn more about inequality by studying it in animals.”

“When we started looking for it, we found lots and lots of examples,” Dr. Jennifer Smith told the New York Times. “To see this across so many different species was quite surprising. And we’re just touching the surface.”

Natural selection is a hate crime! “Red in tooth and claw?” It’s high time that this be changed to “lavender in warm kisses and gentle caress.” Because muh feelings! We immediately decided that the United Nations needs to establish a High Court of Animal Truth, Equity, and Reconciliation, presided over by a blue-ribbon panel of unicorns, and it needs to do so right now.

Aggshully, without digging deeper into it Ol’ Robbo assumes this is, in fact, a piece of weapons-grade trolling on the part of “UCLA scientists” or somebody else, the thought of which warms the cockles of my heart. (The “studies” lead to some distinctly pro-family conclusions, which I believe is a tell.) The frightening part is that I’m not altogether sure about such assumption. (Please tell me I’m right. Lie if you have to.)

Also frightening is the thought that a whole lot of people will believe it anyway. (Not that natural selection exists, of course, but that it has some connection with “social justice” psychobabble and is Wrong.) After all, we live in stupid, stupid times. Have I mentioned this recently?

**An old Woody Allen joke.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Would those aficionados of older movies among you out there have ever guessed that Audrey Hepburn did a western? Well, she did. It’s a 1960 John Huston film called “The Unforgiven”, in which she plays a young woman settler on the frontier who suddenly learns that she really was a Kiowa baby snatched from her village during a punitive raid. Strife ensues. Burt Lancaster and Audie Murphy are her brothers who turn out not to be her brothers.

Alas, the movie’s not very good. The set-up was too long and dull, and the acting was uneven. I suppose the climactic siege and shoot-out is okay, but it’s nothing special.

Y’know, Burt Lancaster is one of those actors who Ol’ Robbo wants to like more than he can get himself to. “The Train” (1964) is one of my favorite movies, and Lancaster, a sort of diamond-in-the-rough version of Charleton Heston, really shines out in it. But I have to admit I’ve been disappointed with every other role I’ve seen him in.

As for Hepburn, Ol’ Robbo’s never been much of a fan but she holds up surprisingly well on the frontier, reminding me somewhat of Jean Simmons, another petite mouse, in “The Big Country” (1958) with Gregory Peck.

Now, Peck was an actor of whom I never saw the appeal, even where I like his movies, always playing the same stiff, stern, stand-offish fellah. The Mothe, on the other hand, was a yuge Peck fan. Whenever I asked her what the attraction was, she’d always reply, “You haven’t the genes, dear boy. You haven’t the genes.”

Ah, well.

And just to round off with a more contemporary entry, I watched “Fatman” (2020) the other evening, with Mel Gibson as Kris Kringle. Weeeellll….. It had one or two snort-worthy moments plus a couple intriguing ideas about Santa’s place between reality and myth that never went anywhere, but by the end it was just another “Lethel Weapon” installment. Glad I saw it once, I suppose, but I wouldn’t bother again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, perhaps to spite my noodling on the upcoming baseball season below, once again Port Swiller Manor has been on the receiving end of a visit by Snow Miser. Alas, though, this time the storm was completely useless, leaving an inch or two of snow over a layer of wet slop on my driveway. Not enough to be pretty, but too much for Ol’ Robbo to simply ignore.

I had to laugh. After former (heh) Gov. Northam’s It’s-you-peasants’-own-damn-fault I-95 blizzard debacle a couple weeks ago, new (*chef’s kiss*) Gov. Youngkin was telling everyone in no uncertain terms to stay home this weekend. Plus, VDOT had the pre-treatment down on my street three or four days ago. Overreact we much?

This is actually pretty typical of the behavior that grips this area during the winter months. A lowball miscalculation about one storm has The Authorities in a state of panic over every other storm for the rest of the season. (That’s part of the reason for the label for these posts.) We used to see this all the time when the Gels were in high school. One superintendent in particular was never able to live down the time he refused to clear the schools early and everyone got caught in an ice-storm trying to get home that afternoon. It’s only when we have a truly heavy winter that everyone eventually calms down and just learns to deal with it.

Anyhoo, here we are. We’ve already seen more “snow events” (I hate that term) so far this year than we did for all of the past couple years. They’re already making noise about another one maybe next weekend, a prospect which concerns me simply because that’s when Youngest is supposed to drive back to Ahia for school. We shall see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Even though we are entering the dark depths of mid-winter and another storm-of-the-century-of-the-week is sweeping into the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor this weekend, a friend reminds me that pitchers and catchers report in 30 days.

Ol’ Robbo confesses that he has not watched a single baseball game since his beloved Nats won the Series in 2019. The 2020 season, abbreviated to a mere 60 games and laden with idiotic, experimental rules changes and “health” restrictions, was an absurdity and, in my humble opinion, ought never to have happened.

As for the 2021 season, when MLB decided to inject itself into politicks by moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest over the Georgia voter law reform kerfluffle, I decided that they could get stuffed. (It wasn’t so much the particular issue as the idea that Sportsball – which I turn to purely for entertainment – should feel the need to rub my nose in matters irrelevant to its function.)

But the truth of the matter is that I’ve missed the game. Also, the fact that not only did the Braves win the Series last year, but that they did so at home, thus demonstrating the Baseball Gods’ utter contempt for MLB’s posturing, so tickles the hackles of Ol’ Robbo’s cold heart that I decided MLB had been suitably chastised, and to give things another try this year.

I’ve much catching up to do. For one thing, I had a look at the Nats’ roster and season record last year. Yikes. Almost everyone from their 2019 Championship team seems to have left, and the names that I did recognize were mostly fresh up from the minors. As for their record? Weeeeell, the polite thing to say is that it was a “rebuilding” year. I gather this year will be much the same.

Also, where are we with those horrid rules changes? How far has the evil DH infection spread now into the National League? Are they still running those stupid extra-inning speed-up stunts? Has covid rendered tagging too dangerous and players must now just wave the ball in the general direction of the runner? Are the Nationals now planning to change their name because it doesn’t comport with the values of our Globalist Betters? Inquiring minds want to know.

So as I say, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Of course, I’m doing so keeping a sharp eye out. Any more insufferable politickal malarkey and I’ll be right back on the boycott line again.

In the meantime, what else is there to say, except


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Isn’t it funny how one can get idea associations so firmly locked into one’s head.

Youngest, who doesn’t go back to school for another week or so, went out with a friend to a fondue restaurant last evening.

Ol’ Robbo has never actually been to this place, but in my mind it has orange shag carpet, a hot tub over in the corner, and ABBA playing on the sound system. This image is so firmly stamped on my braim that I believe it wouldn’t change even if I actually went over and eyeballed the premises myself.

I can’t think why the association is so strong. True, the only time I’ve ever actually had fondue myself was at a friend’s house during my misspent yoot in those benighted times (when it first really got popular in the States), but my friend’s parents did not choose to decorate this way. Perhaps something out of pop culture? Despite the title of this post, I never actually watched that series. But perhaps there was a very special episode of the Brady Bunch where Peter and Jan got into a squabble and wound up spilling melty cheese all over Marsha’s dress right before her big date? (If there wasn’t, there ought to have been.)

Anyhoo, there it is. Fondue and the 70’s. Inseparable to me.

UPDATE: There! Since posting this, I’ve had “Take A Chance On Me” running on a loop in my head. (Share and enjoy!) Not only that, it’s the Muppet Show cover featuring the weird, long-legged birds hopping up and down on power lines. I worry me sometimes.


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January 2022