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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo apologizes for the dearth of posts this week.  There seems to be some kind of connectivity issue between his laptop and the innnertoobs.  Sometimes I get right in, sometimes it acts as if there is no such place.  Being a Luddite, I don’t have the faintest idea where the problem lies.  And I’ve been tired enough the past couple evenings not to have the patience to keep retrying.


I haven’t really had anything to say anyway, so maybe it’s just as well I haven’t had a reliable platform on which not to say it.

If that makes sense.

Anyhoo, I assume whoever is in charge of such things will eventually find teh gremlins fouling up the system and expunge them.  Hopefully by then I’ll have a speech worthy of my little electronic stump.

In the meantime, the port stands by your elbow, so fill up again and pass it to the left.  Cheers!




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are on the cusp of the long weekend which serves as the back-marker of Summah, long Ol’ Robbo’s least-favorite season.  Thanks for playing.  Now move along.

Ol’ Robbo had a rather startling experience last evening.  As I mentioned below, I was given a prescription for BP meds this week, which the doc duly phoned in to CVS.  I mentioned this to Mrs. R and asked her if there was a way that I could give her the authority to check on availability, pick them up when she happened to be there, and so on.  (Mrs. R loves to manage this sort of thing, so I knew it would be no burden to ask her.)  “Sure,” she said, “But you have to fill out an on-line authorization form.  I’ll send you the link.”

So she did.  When I opened it up, it asked me for my date of birth and zip code.  “Okay,” I thought, “Security clearance.  No biggie.”  But that was just the beginning.  It then asked me a whole slew of multiple choice questions.  “With which city listed have you not been associated?”  “On which street or streets have you lived?” “In what state was your social security card issued?”  And several others of like biographical reference.

What I want to know is:  How the hell does CVS HAVE all this information about me?  

How do they know I have no association with Pittsburgh?  (I do, as a matter of fact.  I’ve been there twice and have walked over the Roberto Clementi Bridge several times.  So, nyah.)

How can they remember a street I haven’t lived on in thirty years?  (And I don’t recall ever doing any biznay with them when I did.)

Mayun, that was creepy.


On a totally different note, one of the perks of Ol’ Robbo’s new office is that I have one of those work stations you can raise or lower, so that you can either stand or sit while tapping away at your keyboard.  I’ve been trying it out this past week and discovering, once I got the keyboard angle right, that I really rather like the standing option.  My question is what the optimum ratio of standing to sitting ought to be.  I did a little bit of googling on the subject (which will no doubt come up in a future security screening somewhere) and found one site that recommended standing 15 minutes in the hour, but that seems a little low to me, as well as being disruptive when I’m hot n’ heavy into a writing assignment of some sort.  Any friends of the decanter out there have any thoughts/experience about this?

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify:  I’m not naïve about Big Data in general.  What startled me was how much an entity with which I’ve had relatively little contact over the years and about which I hardly think twice should know about me.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other day Verizon upgraded the Port Swiller Manor communications package, giving us not one but two new routers.

My laptop is perfectly fine with the new arrangement, but my phone absolutely hates it.  Tried catching up with Sistah yesterday and even when I found a good reception spot, after a few minutes it would fade out on me again.  Same deal happened when Middle Gel tried to call me to chat.  (On the other hand, I don’t seem to have any problems with either text-messaging or accessing the Innertoobs from it.)

It’s an older iPhone, a hand-me-down from Mrs. R, but I wasn’t noticing any particular problems with it last week before the service upgrade.  Is this issue some kind of clash between levels of technology?  Or is my phone just dying?  I have no idea.

I actually dislike talking on the phone more and more the older I get, but I dislike shouting, “Hello? Hello?? HELLO???” in baffled, futile fury even more.

UPDATE: Oh, and any wag who wants to make a deafness joke here gets a night in the box.  In fact, I am getting deafer, but it’s the kind of deafness where I can’t pick out an individual conversation in a noisy environment like a party.  I’ve seriously started to consider whether a hearing-aid might not be a bad thing to check out.  And yes, you can get off my lawn now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Ol’ Robbo inaugurates his new, o-fficial, twice-weekly teleworking scheme today.

I’ve avoided signing up for it for many years, primarily because getting a remote connection into our system used to be a colossal and unreliable pain, and also because the original house rules were both draconian and nit-picky.  But both of those things have changed in recent years, and now having moved to a new building with a longer commute, I finally persuaded myself to get on board.

So here we are.  Ol’ Robbo sees that his kawfee is about ready and his “check-in” time is coming up in just a bit, so I’ll just toddle off down to my study to get ready for the workday.

I may, or may not, be wearing pants.

UPDATE:  A successful experiment, I think.  The system access worked fine, nobody bugged me but Decanter Dog and the kittehs, it was pleasant enough out to eat lunch and then spend the afternoon working on the porch, and I got a lot done.  And afterward, instead of the long slog home, I got in a good workout.

The only pro-tip I’d pass along is that if, like me, you aren’t used to using your work laptop, you should make sure to check it out for a built-in camera and attend to same with a square of duct tape before you start, er, indulging whims best kept private.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo notes that today is this blog’s 11th anniversary.

Maybe the thing to celebrate is not that it thrives but that it survives at all.   Twenty “hits” and one or two comments is a good day for me.  I can’t even remember the last time somebody actually “linked” me.   The retirees on my blogroll far outnumber those who are still active.

But you know? So what.  As long as I still enjoy hauling out the ol’ laptop and posting whatever runs across my braims, I’ll keep doing it.  Even if it means I’m essentially just typing to myself.

In the meantime, I do feel tremendous gratitude for those of you who stick around here and take those posts in.  And if there aren’t that many here?  It just means there’s more port and Stilton for the rest of us!

So charge your glasses, pray, gunn’ls under, and here’s to 11 Years with three times three and no heel taps!

MULTI-SUBJECT UPDATE:  Thankee, friends!  Thankee muchly!   I say that I do this simply because I enjoy writing, but any blogger who claims that is, in fact, a liar.  The knowledge of making any kind of difference (hopefully for the better) in somebody else’s life and experience with my blatherings far outweighs mere pixilated wanking.

Now for a couple of things.

First, a glass of wine with Melissa Kean who writes over at Rice History Corner and may be a first time commenter here. (At the very least, an infrequent one.)  Welcome!  For what it’s worth as a small historickal nugget, back in the days of my misspent high school yoot in San Antonio in the early 80’s,  Rice was considered the in-state choice for brainiacs and eggheads, a kind of “Texas Ivy”.  I dunno if that perception still holds true.  (For myself, in a class of around 660, I believe I was one of fewer than ten who went out of state.  But then, I was both a Yankee carpet-bagger and a weirdo.)  Oh, and I recall that their marching band was famous for its unconventional performances.  Is that still the case?

Several of you mention the aging factor.  I’d thought about that as well, but the truth is I still think of this place as fairly newish because I first started blogging with the formation of the Llamas back in November, 2003.  That’s ancient history!  Ol’ Robbo still yearns for a bloggy renaissance.  Those first heady days back in the earlies were such fun and so free-spirited.  Of course, the times are considerably different now, but I had hopes that the poisonous and censorious atmospheres of platforms like Twatter and FacePlant would convince folk to come back to the Blogsphere.  (WordPress, bless ’em, have never given me any flak whatsoever for the stuff I put up here.)

Browndog mentions a discussion in the morning thread over at the Ewok’s Place today about John Boorman’s original plan to do a Lord of the Rings movie back in the late 70’s which got kyboshed because of costs.  He wound up doing “Excalibur” instead.  Yes, I did see that, although I didn’t open up the linkies because work.  It’s not unreasonable to believe that had Boorman done LOTR, Peter Jackson maybe would not have.  And long-time friends of the decanter know all about what Ol’ Robbo thinks of Peter Jackson.  On the other hand, if Boorman had carried on through with the project and “Excalibur” hadn’t been made, would we have still got a young, nekked Helen Mirren?  I think not. Just sayin’.

Finally, did somebody say….Mélissa Theauriau??!!

Yes, indeedilly-didilly! ***


*** Another Llama blast-from-the-past.  And yes, I need to get to Confession anyway……





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo mentioning a week or two ago the monstrously expensive generator we had installed last year seeming to go duff the very first time we actually had any real need of it?

Well, the installer came out today to take a dekko.  He pushed a few buttons, twiddled with some of the bits, and took some readings on others.  In the end, his prognosis was, “Well, it’s working now.  Can’t really say why it wasn’t working then, as it should have been.”

How’s that for reassurance?

As it happens, he’s coming back next week to do an annual service.  I hadn’t realized before today that the thing keeps a digital status log which records, essentially, everything that happens to it: when it turns on; when it turns off; when something goes blooey.  One of the things the fellah’s going to do when he returns is install a wireless gizmo that allows the on-board computer to send these flags to any email we choose, including the installer.  That way, he’s got a real-time alert in case a problem comes up and can respond accordingly.

I can see the usefulness of this, but I can also very much see the dangers in terms of data-based totalitarianism.

Now you folks may think that Ol’ Robbo is wandering into tinfoil hat territory here.  Mebbe, but mebbe not.

I see more and more articles about this evolving Chinese social credit system, whereby “citizens” may be rewarded or punished in terms of access to basic goods and services based on their adherence to Party-approved behavior.  Frankly, this scares the willies out of me, because I know our own Leftist Elites would dearly love to impose such a system here.

Heck, it’s already happening, with, for example, banks taking steps to limit access to credit for firearms purchases. (And yet, you still have to bake the damned cake.) The rapid digitization of everything makes such manipulation infinitely easier, as all that data can be centralized, collated, and evaluated.

A wireless generator diagnostic alert system may seem harmless, but Ol’ Robbo can just imagine, in the midst of a massive blizzard-related power outage, getting a notice from Washington Gas (which powers the thing) stating:

“Dear valued customer: Our central database indicates that you are a practicing Roman Catholic.  Furthermore, according to records obtained from Netflix, you appear to watch a great many John Wayne movies.  Your vehicular travel patterns indicate that you do not take full advantage of available public transportation resources.  Your social media activities demonstrate that you are not sufficiently woke.

These data have a direct, negative effect on your social credit.  Because of this and because of our limited resources during the current emergency, this is to inform you that we are temporarily suspending the supply of natural gas to your location, and redirecting that supply to other customers with higher credit.

Have a nice day.”

I only hope that this is just crazy talk.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, but my Muse is absolutely, stonily silent this evening.  Several ideas have popped into the Robbo braims, including thoughts on radical environmentalist headlines this week and their relationship to Gnosticism; the end last evening of Youngest’s school softball season; and today’s birthday anniversary of Johannes Brahms.  Try as I might to woo her assistance, however, she’s just not having anything to do with translating them into coherent posts.  (Hell, it’s taken me twenty minutes to suss out just this paragraph!)

Blame pollen, I guess.

I suppose I’ll go and see what new ways my beloved Nationals can find to lose ball games.  That’ll free up my tongue, probably, although not in ways suitable to a family blog.








Just a quick word to let those friends of the decanter who may wish to contact Ol’ Robbo that I have changed my email for this place.  (I’m tired of fighting with Yahoo.)  Going forward, back-channel traffic may find me at portswillers  I’ve updated this information in the “About” section, too.



Mrs. Robbo’s iPhone developed some kind of internal problem and stopped working this morning.  Because of scheduling issues, it fell upon Self to toddle off to the Apple Store at the mall to see what could be done about it.  I took Youngest Gel along to act as guide and interpreter.  (She served as chauffer as well.)

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been to the mall in ages for a very good reason:  I can’t stand them. Especially when, like today, they’re full of people milling about in random, entropic shoals and continually either bouncing off of one or blocking one’s path.  It brings out the misanthrope in me.

As for Apple, that place gives me the creeps just from the sheer volume of information they must be sucking in every time a customer brings a gadget to them.  Also from the long con on the technology they offer.  Even the Gel knows it:  “They rig iPhones to break just when the new models come out so you have to buy one, don’t they?”  she said.

Yes, yes they do.

Bringing the Gel along was an inspiration, by the bye, and was the only thing that let me succeed in getting Mrs. R’s  problem resolved:

Technician: “Okay, now go ahead and enter your Apple ID…”

Self: “My whu-?”

Gel: “Give me that..” [Types in relevant code]

She also showed me and explained in words of one syllable how to backup all of Mrs. R’s data into “the Cloud” and then bring it back once the phone was working again, something that would have been far beyond my own skills.

I bought her some complicated strawberry drink and a cup full of pretzel bites after we were done with genuine gratitude.


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.




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