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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over at the Puppy-Blender’s place, Stephen Green quotes at length an article by Arthur Chrenkoff that is well worth cut-and-paste emphasis here:

The Millennials can’t remember very much – and they don’t learn very much either. It’s easy being hot for socialism or communism when you actually have a very little idea of what it is and what it did throughout the 20th century. And the Ys have that ignorance in spades; one third of them think that George W Bush killed more people than Stalin and 42 per cent have never heard of Mao – but over 70 per cent agree with Bernie Sanders. Some research suggests that only 15 per cent actually have a correct understanding of socialism. It’s not just politics; the Millennials are the most woefully undereducated and miseducated generation in a very long time. To be fair, that’s not strictly their fault; that attaches itself again to their Boomer grandparents who have been in charge of our failing education systems during this time. Combine the modern indoctrination-cum-dumbification taking place in schools and universities with the attention span-killing impact of information technology and social media, and you have a barely literate cohort, which is simply not equipped with the necessary mental tools to learn about the real world even if they wanted to.

Yep.  Ol’ Robbo would only add that this is no accident, but a deliberate campaign by Leftists in Academia to turn the next generation into mindless, easily-manipulated zombies.  And no, I don’t need any tinfoil, thank you.  I know all about the Frankfurt School and the Gramscian Long March through the Institutions.

To think that I was naïve enough at one point to believe that when the Soviet Union collapsed, our troubles would be over.

It has been my number one mission in life to save my own children from this brainwashing, and I like to think I have been somewhat successful at ensuring they are both analytically sound thinkers as well as knowledgeable about actual history.  To give an example, they’ve all got the figures of the slaughters caused by the “great” 20th Century despots – Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. – at their fingertips.  And they all recognize that Bernie Sanders (or Wilson or FDR, for that matter) – style “Progressivism” is just another variant of collectivist authoritarianism sprung from the same root as the “-Isms” championed by these monsters.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo is chuckling to himself because Eldest told me yesterday that she got into a dust-up with her religion professor over whether the Nazis were socialists. “What part of ‘National Socialist Workers’ Party’ did she not understand?” the Gel exclaimed indignantly.  She gets that there are subtle variations among the different collectivist creeds, but she also gets the modern meme of Hitler = Fascist = Right-Wing = Republican, and rejects it whole-heartedly.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah, that Ma Nature, here she come again!

Youngest’s school already announced this afternoon that they’ll be closed tomorrow.  The County has been extraordinarily skittish about this sort of thing since they blew a call a few years back and stayed open when they really shouldn’t have.  (Icey, untreated roads, as I recall.) Some of the kidz tracked down the Superintendent’s social media page and hammered him mercilessly.

I expect Uncle will go to “liberal leave” status, too, which Ol’ Robbo probably will take since it seems the worst of the storm is going to hit during the morning commute and I’ve a check up scheduled for the middle of the afternoon out in the burbs anyway.

They’re still fiddling with accumulation predictions – 2 to 5 inches followed by sleet and freezing rain in the immediate area is the latest I heard – but I’ve noticed that they’ve lowballed all of their predictions this year and we’ve wound up actually getting more, so who knows.

The odd thing about this storm is I didn’t even realize it was coming until this morning.  As of yesterday, I was under the impression we were going to have a generally sunny and not too cold week.

For all tomorrow promises to be a nastygram of a day, however, we’re supposed to by up into the 60’s on Sunday.  We’re entering that time of year in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny when Ma goes into her cray-cray mode.  Must be that “climate weirding” that Alexandria Donkey-Chompers and her friends say means we have to kill all the cows, ground commercial aviation, eliminate the internal combustion engine, nationalize all private property, and tax ourselves back to the Stone Age to prevent. .


UPDATE:  Nope, ‘Nunky actually told us to stay home today: The Robbo abides.

OPM, which is essentially the god of the bureaucracy, is a strange creature.  Over the many years I’ve been in and around Dee Cee, it seems to shift from time to time in attitude toward weather-related closure, but these shifts do not appear to line up with changes in control of either Congress or the White House.  There have been stretches where nothing short of Gotterdammerung would cause OPM to close, while there have been others where it has jumped firmly on the “Eek! A snowflake!” bandwagon.  Of late, it seems to have been fairly loose.

For all that, it’s coming down pretty hard as I update, and I wouldn’t go out in this one way or the other.  (FWIW, it looks like the weather folks might have lowballed it again.)  I’m chucking my doc appointment, too.  Kawfee and idleness for the win!

UPDATE DEUX: Maaaybe a lean four inches altogether here before it turned briefly to sleet/freezing rain before going totally drizzle.  Mrs. Robbo was completely fogged as to why I wanted to dash out and heave the snow off the driveway while the rain was coming down but now I know I’m all set for tomorrow morning’s commute.  Aaand, I don’t have to break into my stock of de-icing pellets.

Incidentally, while I was up at the top of the drive, a snowplow came bombing up the road: He caught me good and hard with his wash.  Ouch.  I think he was just mad because with me standing there he couldn’t take out my mailbox undetected.  Bastard.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of his day off today to get the ol’ garden cleaned up and ready to go for the new year (read: raze everything to stumps and clear out all the deadwood).  I’m sure Mr. Washington will understand, given that he was a man of the soil, too.

As I went out this morning, I heard Mrs. Robbo grumbling under her breath.  Mrs. R has never liked Robbo’s garden, occasionally suggesting we should sod it over or even install a tennis court.  Even though I vehemently protest against these ideas every time she floats them, I can’t say that I don’t understand her attitude:  In all the years we’ve lived at Port Swiller Manor, I’ve never yet worked it up to anything near what I want it to be.  At its best in high summah, with all the butterfly bushes in full bloom and the place covered with tiger swallowtails, a few monarchs, various bees, and the odd hummingbird, it has a definite sort of shabby, dryad loveliness.  The rest of the year?  Not so much.

Robbo’s Ideal

In fact, I know exactly what I want to do with the thing. I want to re-survey the central path and put a border of side-by-side bricks around it.  I want to pull out most of what’s in it right now and put in a series of raised beds, although I plan to leave butterfly bushes interspersed between them.  Then I want to build up the soil in each bed to specific levels of acidity or alkalinity to correspond with whatever flowers I decide to put in.  Then the whole thing has to be heavily critter-proofed. (The deer don’t come in the yard anymore because of the dog, but Mr. Bunny Foo-Foo sometimes does and the groundhogs are a real menace.)  This will involve a lot of fencing that I might even electrify. (Sistah does this to keep the foxes out of her chicken yard.)



Something Closer to Robbo’s Reality

All this, of course, will involve both time and money.  I don’t mind about the time so much, since I’d hire somebody to do the basics for me.  (One of the benefits of having reached my mid-50’s is not feeling I have to prove anything by trying to do it all myself.) The money, on the other hand?  Well, what with the kids still on our coattails for at least the next few years (even as I type this, Mrs. R is on the phone haggling with a dealer over a possible car for Youngest), it’s just too much of a stretch.  Just for laughs, a year or two ago I got an estimate on just some of the more basic first steps.  Even that I found to be unconscionable.

Ah, well.  I’m perfectly content to wait, even if Mrs. R isn’t.  In the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novel The Ionian Mission, the British Admiral commanding the blockade of Toulon, who is very old and sick, longs for nothing more than for the French to come out and fight before he dies or is sent home.  He refers to the waters between the inner and outer squadrons of the British Fleet as the “Sea of Hopes Deferred”.   I’m beginning to think of my garden as a “Hope Deferred”, too, but with any luck I won’t have to wait quite so long for its realization.

Incidentally, that “Ideal” photo comes from this site, which looks to have some pretty good ideas….

UPDATE:  You may be asking yourself, “Self? Why doesn’t Ol’ Robbo go for a gradual transformation….like, say, one new bed per season?”  Well, that idea has been slowly creeping into my braims, too.  There may well be much in it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo would be fibbing if he said Spring was in the air in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor just yet, but I think it’s safe to say she’s certainly at least in the offing.

Yesterday, as the puppeh and I made our way through the woods on our walkies, I noticed that the indigenous briars are starting to sprout their first leaves.  And as I look out my library window, I see that the earliest-blooming of my maples is now showing red at its fingertips.

So yes, I think she’s definitely on her way.  Huzzay, huzzah! Fall is still Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season, but Spring comes in a very, very close second.

Of course, this means that after kicking his heals most of the past couple months and filling this space with assorted non-gardening nonsense, Ol’ Robbo suddenly has lots of things to do.  Specifically, now that late winter is  upon him, pre-season pruning becomes a priority.  The butterfly bushes in the garden need to be hacked back to their stumps; it’s now probably not too early to cut back the roses as well; and if I’m out with my clippers anyway, I probably should have a go at the wisteria too.  And, of course, I haven’t yet finished clearing out the debris from the fallen tree back of the fence.

Ayuh, nevah rains but it pours.

And speaking of late winter matters, now that the worst of the cold appears to be behind us (furtively touches wood), I am agog to see how some of my more delicate plantings fared.  I never got around to wrapping insolation around the boxwood in the urns on my patio, but they don’t seem to have suffered much.  (It got pretty damn cold here this year.  If they survived that, I’m not going to bother with the insulation going forward.)  As for the jasmine I put in last spring, it’s entirely too early to tell, but I think they’ll be okay.


** A variation on “Hurry Up and Wait”, an alleged military expression that made it into the family lexicon in Ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot.  The Old Gentleman was legendary for demanding pinpoint punctuality from everyone else and then being late himself.  I differ from the old boy in that while I, too, demand punctuality, I don’t lag myself but usually beat everyone else to whatever the deadline might be.

Greatings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, for those of you interested, Ol’ Robbo made it back to Port Swiller Manor from his latest biznay jaunt safe and sound.  A few observations:

Yesterday morning featured about three hours of driving in a subcompact rental through a 30+ mph crosswind.  By the time I was done, my forearms felt like Popeye’s.

DFW is just about the least user-friendly airport I’ve ever encountered.  (Yes, even worse than Dulles.)  Huge, labyrinth-like, poorly-signed, and full of people who don’t really seem to give a damn.  No greenhorn at dealing with new airports, I even managed to get lost trying to find the south gate from the rental-car place and driving along the perimeter road a while before realizing my mistake.  And just getting back in to the terminals was difficult because you can only do it by elevator because of some huge construction project.  Love Field for me next time.

The first leg of Robbo’s trip home last evening was aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  I believe this was my first time.  What a beast.  I like all the high-tech, coo-el, futuristic-looking internal gewgaws, and I’m sure the premium seating is pretty sweet, but for us folks in the back?  It’s just another cattle-car.  The good news is that although it was another choppy flight, the thing is so big that I barely had any sensation of being off the ground.

Oh, and the woman with the infant/toddler combination who sat next to me outbound the other day?  There was another one on the way back.  She was far enough away, however, that the squalling proved only a minor nuisance, unlike the metallic voice of one of the stewardesses, who spent seemingly the entire flight in the rear galley haranguing a co-worker about some crisis or other.  Sheesh.

I flew American this time.  Every single flight was overbooked and every single boarding process was fraught with high drama.  What’s up with that (as the kids say)?

Ol’ Robbo contrived once again to leave his sunglasses in the rental car.  It got me wondering how much money those sunglasses huts in the terminals make off just such morons like myself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s a happy, happy day.  Know why? Because Spring Training starts today!  Yip! Yip! Yip!

Ol’ Robbo is feeling generally pretty good about his beloved Nationals going into the 2019 season.  Bryce or no Bryce,*** I think we made some good off-season trades to bolster our starting rotation, to bring some depth to the bench, and (hopefully) to shore up the bullpen, and making allowances for all the things that can go wrong over 162 games or more, I firmly believe we’re contenders this year.

(***Not the Phillies.  That’s all I ask.  Not the Phillies….)

Last year’s embarrassing mediocrity lay, I think, in a sort of languid assumption that we were going to walk away with the pennant again.  And I think it was unfortunate that we started out with rookie manager Dave Martinez doing weird things with camels and “group sessions” and all that other HR-inspired “community building” crap during spring training, rather than reminding the guys that they needed to be hungry for it from Day One.  I believe we really never caught up from that stumble.  Whole damn season felt positively flat.  Hopefully, he’s learned a thing or two about management and motivation from the experience, and we’ll see the Nats come out of the gate a lean, mean, fighting machine.

Plus, I think we kinda didn’t expect anyone else in the division to play very well.  Atlanta put paid to that.  Some of the other clubs are looking more promising this year, too.  Again, hopefully we’re not misunderestimating our rivals.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’m feeling pretty good, although I’ll save actual season predictions until after camp.

And apart from that, what else is there to say except





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo must hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning for a quick biznay trip that will get him back to Port Swiller Manor very late Thursday evening.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will bother bringing along my personal laptop.  If I don’t, this post is meant to explain my silence for the next few days.

Here’s something to ponder in the meanwhile:  Friends of the decanter may have come to sense over the years that Ol’ Robbo is something of a nut about planning and punctuality.  True enough.  (In this, I highly approved of Middle Gel’s former high school choir director’s iron rule that if you’re early, you’re on time; If you’re on time, you’re late; If you’re late, don’t bother showing up.  My college crew coach held the identical view.)

Yet for all that, I have never been able to bring myself to pack for an early morning trip the evening before, but instead typically fill up the ol’ suitcase in a fog and haze at Oh Dark Thirty.  I almost always find myself scrambling to beat the clock in my packing so that I can make it to the airport the obligatory two hours before my flight leaves.

I suppose part of this is sheer laziness, part evidence of a reluctance to leave.  Also, I admit getting a certain kick, after all the kerfluffle, of sitting about in the departure lounge and kicking my heals because I’m always way early.

Yes, I’m weird.

Anyhoo, back later.  Unless I check in sooner.  We’ll see.

FLYING THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES UPDATE:  Brought the laptop after all.  Which is just as well because Ol’ Robbo can now kvetch about his flight out this morning.

Not only did it prove to be one of the most beastly, choppy, turbulent flights of my experience.  (Three hours, about two thirds of it with the seatbelt sign lit and the stewardesses sitting down.  At one point, I swear the pilot rammed the throttle wide open just to try and get through the next patch of very bad sky as quickly as possible.)

Not only was I worried that the very large man in the seat in front of me was going to cause it to collapse into my lap by all his heaving around in it.

No, the cherry on top of the ice cream was that I was seated next to a young mother who had both an infant who couldn’t have been more than a month or two old and a toddler somewhere in the 2 y.o. range.  When the infant wasn’t being nursed (at least the mother brought along a covering for that), he screamed his bloody head off.  When the toddler didn’t feel she was getting all the attention she deserved, she screamed her bloody head off.

Part of me thought the mother quite brave for juggling this pair and all their accoutrements all by herself in a (for the most part) calm manner.  The other part of me heartily wished she were being brave somewhere else.

Of course, listening to all this rather took my mind off the plane being tossed about so much, but in the end, even when two such irritants cancel each other out to some extent, it’s still a mighty exhausting time.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo sometimes refills his bird feeders while still in his robe and jammies.  So what? I figure it might make the lady next door’s morning (or at least give her a good laugh).

This time of year my big feeder usually runs out some time mid-week, but since I don’t wish to bankrupt myself on seed, I refrain from refilling it until Saturday morning.  It always interests me to see how long it takes for the first bird to come back in once the feeder is reloaded.  The time seems to vary – anything from a couple minutes to an hour or two – but once the first bird makes its appearance, the mob inevitably shows up in very short order.

The one thing I do notice is that the first bird in is almost inevitably a chickadee.  I’ve heard tell that these birds are quite intelligent and even trainable.  I wonder if the local crew over the years has gained some sort of sense of when it’s time to all go round to Robbo’s place.

UPDATE:  By the bye, when Alexandra Occasional-Cortex’s New Green Gulag Deal reduces all us kulaks to a starvation-level existence, who’s going to feed all those birds then? Huh? Huh?


**Okay, it’s really a birdwatching post, but this is the middle of February, after all, and there isn’t really anything to be done in the yard.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo tries to approach driving in general, and commuting in particular, in a charitable frame of mind.  I believe this is especially important in traffic hellholes like Northern Virginia and Downtown Dee Cee.

I don’t cut people off.  I don’t yell and gesture.  I (mostly) don’t tailgate.  At mergers and when the curb lane is cut off by a parked car, I always make a point of letting the next driver in ahead of me.  In short, I try to be a nice guy and a good Christian.

And when people in front of me  don’t notice the light has turned green because they’re too engrossed with fiddling with their iThingy?  Even here, for a first offense I limit myself to a restrained little tap on the horn.  A veritable “Ahem, um, excuse me…”

But when the same woman does the same not-notice-the-light-is-green-because-iThingy-thing for three successive lights in a row?  Yeah, I’m leaning on that horn long and hard with both elbows.  More like “@(*#$&#@(*$&#*(&$!!!”

I hope the message got across this evening, but I’m somewhat doubtful.

St. Christopher is the patron saint of drivers.  I’m pretty sure he’s perfectly comfortable with putting in a good word for me with the Old Man over this.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo watched a couple of WWII movies this week that I thought well worth a mention.

The first, which ran on TCM, was “Battleground” (1949), about the 101st Airborne pinned down at Bastogne.  I knew I’d seen it before, because I remembered Ricardo Montalban being in it.  However, having watched the “Band of Brothers” series multiple times since then, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Tom Hanks and his screenwriters have seen it too, as there is much which seems to reappear in the BoB treatment of the siege.  A solid flick.

The second, which I got from Netflix, was “The Train” (1964).  Burt Lancaster is a French railwayman who, along with his Resistance pals, seeks to thwart a Nazi plot to steal a load of French Master paintings and ship them out of Paris by rail just before the Allies move in.  (Funnily, the first paintings shown being fingered by the Krauts were by Gauguin.  My reaction was, “Hey, take ’em.”) I had not seen this film before (although one sequence in which a British Spitfire tries to catch and destroy a locomotive before it can get to a tunnel and hide seems oddly familiar), and had no real expectations one way or the other.  Well, my friends, setting aside the fact that Lancaster didn’t even bother trying to adopt a French accent but instead grunted his lines in good ol’ ‘Murican, I found this film to be terrific.  It’s chock-a-block with intrigue, suspense, and action.  The Nazis are suitably villainous, the French pragmatic, cynical, but patriotic.  The special effects are quite good.  And there’s not a single ounce of superfluous fat in the screenplay.  (Oh, and I read that Lancaster does all his own stunts.)  Highly recommended.

Speaking of Netflix and old movies, I assume you all saw the recent article about the academic who argues Dick Van Dyke’s soot-covered chimney-sweep mug in “Mary Poppins” is somehow raaaaaacist?  It’s complete horse hockey, of course, and I doubt even the academic xerself believes it, but this is a perfect example of the cultural Marxist assault on the Western canon: Make an assertion, however ridiculous or outrageous, and stick to it through force of will until your target crumbles.  I’ve read elsewhere that Netflix itself will succumb (perhaps even willingly) to this assault and destroy its library of DVD classics, leaving its clients with no choice but streaming of politically correct modern claptrap.

In the last year or two, Ol’ Robbo has started collecting DVD copies of movies that have come under the censorial gaze of the modern Committee of Public Safety, including such classicks as “Gone With The Wind”, “Blazing Saddles”, and “Animal House”.  It is arguable that films like these contain material that is antithetical to the current Neo-Jacobin sensibilities (to which Ol’ Robbo would reply, “Fine. Don’t watch them, then.”).  But to attack something as innocent as “Mary Poppins” on completely bogus grounds? That’s escalating the liquidation to an alarming extent.  And I doubt if my wallet is large enough to provide sanctuary for all that many refugees from this kind of purge.

(Nonetheless yes, I’m already preparing a secret hidey-hole in which to store my collection for when the Ogpu come round looking for it. Ssssshhhhh!!!!!)


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