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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It amazes Ol’ Robbo that here in the Formerly Great Commonwealth of Virginny, in the middle of June, I find it necessary to wear long pants and a sweatshirt while working out on my porch, and that after an hour or two of it I’m downright shivering.

I know it won’t last, of course, but still…..

Thank yew, Glowbull Enwarmening!!

UPDATE:  How chilly was Ol’ Robbo this morning?  So chilly I forgot to plug my power cord into the wall socket.  Result?  Both of my laptops suddenly went dark just now.

It was….disconcerting.  For a moment I thought “They” had finally caught up with me!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is very happy to report this evening his first sighting this year of fireflies on the grounds of Port Swiller Manor. As regular friends of the decanter may recall from previous mid-June posts here, I dearly love fireflies.*

There only seem to be one or two at the moment but I look forward to seeing the tree-line full of them shortly.

As I’m sure I’ve noted here frequently in the past, one of my fondest relevant memories is of the summah I spent at my godparents’ house outside Fred-Vegas** after my first year of law school.  (I was interning in the Senate.)  After a particularly violent thunderstorm in the early evening, I happened to go outside.  The hedge across the way was so full of fireflies, I swear I could almost hear the sound of their collective illumination.  Pah! Pah! Pah! And to this day, I still think of a lyric from the Ten Thousand Maniacs song “The Painted Desert”:  “The stars were so many there they seemed to overlap.”***

As I say, shiny.

Also this evening I spotted my first bats of the year flittering above the demesne.

This also made me very happy, as I love bats, too, but I recognize I have to be somewhat more circumspect about that.  Fireflies, so far as I know, are completely uncontroversial, while bats can be terribly polarizing.  Indeed, Mrs. R hates them with a passion, which is why I’ve resisted the temptation to tack a bat-house to the foundations of Port Swiller Manor all these years.

It’s also why later I shall break the joyous news of the former to her while keeping mum about the latter.

However, since this is my blog, which is mine, and which so far as I know Mrs. R still doesn’t read,**** I will offer here a toast to both.


* In Ol’ Robbo’s yoot in South Texas, I first learned to call them lightning bugs.  However, I don’t know if this was a result of my parents’ Yankee antecedents or the local usage.  (On this front, ask me some time about the grief I got among my peers over my family-taught use of the term “sand-burrs” for what they called “stickers”.)

** Fredericksburg, Virginny.  It’s a family joke.

*** Shut up.

**** And may it stay that way.

UPDATE: Damme if I know why that first asterisk-point is formatted differently.  WordPress evidently hates cut n’ paste and I’m too tired to go back and fiddle with it manually.  Just ignore it, thankee.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Pentecost!

Ol’ Robbo has often wondered about a little nugget in Acts 2.1-11 in which Luke describes the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on this day and their subsequent speaking in tongues to the Jews of various countries and nations assembled at Jerusalem.  He names something like fifteen different locales, almost all in general terms:  Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Asia, Phrygia, and so on.  But he is specific about “the parts of Libya about Cyrene”.  I can’t recall when I first picked up on this but it has become something of an eyeworm every time I see it now, and for some reason it makes me smile, too.

Is there any particular significance to this?  Were the Jews scatter-shot around these other regions but specifically concentrated around Cyrene in Libya? In that case, why not just say Cyrene?  (He also cites Rome, after all.)  Or, to be consistent, say Libya assuming that his reader will know where in that land the Jews live?

Perhaps there’s a point to this, perhaps I’m just overreading it.  I dunno.  But as I say, it grabs my attention every time.  (Not to the point, I hasten to add, that it distracts me from the broader message!)

Anyhoo, the extra good news for Ol’ Robbo this Pentecost Sunday – and the reason for the post title – is that I will be going back to Mass next week for the first time in several months! To borrow a tag line from Ye Olde LlamaButchers blog: Yip! Yip! Yip!

I watched today’s broadcast from my parish operating under Kommissar Northam’s “Phase 1” reopening policy for the first time and, despite every other pew being taped off, there appeared to be plenty of room in which to plant my own carcass next week.  The Good Lord knows imma need it.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of the casualties of COVID-1984** is Youngest’s “Reveal Day” at school.  This was the day on which seniors were supposed to go to school dressed in tees, sweatshirts, and whatnot of the colleges and universities they’ll be attending this fall.

To work around this, the administrators are encouraging teh kidz to put together little five-to-fifteen second videos of themselves announcing their choices.  I gather the plan is to fadge them all together in a sort of electronic class collage.

Ol’ Robbo actually thinks it’s kind of a sweet idea.  If they can make it work, that is.  Our school district has not exactly covered itself with electronic glory since the lockdown began. (Rumor has it the head IT guy was sacked because the transition to Blackboard turned out to be such a pig’s breakfast.)

Anyhoo, I saw Youngest’s entry last evening. It’s pretty representative of the way her mind works.

In the first part, holding up a Hurricanes logo, she says, “Hi! I’m Youngest Port Swiller and this fall I’m going to Miami…..”

Suddenly the shot cuts and she reappears dressed head to toe in Redhawks gear, continuing, “of OHIOOOO!!!!” and laughing like a loon.

She then starts cranking Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” and the screen is filled with shots of cornfields with Youngest’s head photoshopped into them and the Ohio flag in one corner.

Yes, that’s my gel.

No final word on what the gel’s school is doing about graduation yet, by the bye.  Evidently they’re mulling over some kind of virtual ceremony, they may hold it live some time in the summah, or they may just cancel it altogether.  Eldest’s college graduation ceremony has been rescheduled to the long weekend in October, but I don’t think that’s a practical option for a high school.


** I saw somebody use this label the other day and immediately decided to steal it.  Fits the situation to a tee, I’m thinking.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a few odds and ends not related to The End Of The World As You Know It?

♦  Happy Birthday to HRH Queen Elizabeth II!  She’s a good Sheila, Bruce, and not a’tall stuck up.

♦  Today is the traditional anniversary of the founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 B.C.

♦  Somebody on a comment thread somewhere yesterday made mention of the fact that “Ctrl +” will enbiggen your computer screen.  I had not known that.  My tired old  eyes have been thankful ever since.

♦  Speaking of computers, I become increasingly convinced that my work Skype is spying on me.  Sure, I’ve got a piece of duct tape over the camera lens, but how do you shut off the mic?

♦  Of course, the only thing it would hear, mostly, is my streaming of the local classickal musick station.  The past day or two, I’ve had Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 (the “Little C-major”) running through my braims.  I’m reasonably positive that the “Da-Da-Da-Dum” motif he uses in the 3rd movement Presto (especially at the section closes) is a direct nod to Ol’ Ludwig Van.

♦  I must confess that I’ve been indulging in Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series of late.  This is a sort of masochistic exercise for me, as I consider his characters to be cardboard and his style sensationalist.  But he’s so very, very good at describing Napoleonic battle maneuvers…..

So I’ve got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo considers himself a reasonably intelligent and informed person, but I have to confess I actually fell for the April Fool’s joke yesterday about students being required to repeat the school year due to coronapalooza.


UPDATE:  Just how crazy are the Times?  Well, technophobic Ol’ Robbo just now got off his very first home-based work video conference.

We used Zoom, which probably means the Chi-Coms have already got my digital mug in their database, but more importantly it reminds me of that teevee show of the same name that ran on PBS back in the day.  Anybody else remember the viewer mail jingle?  Sing along!

Write Zoom! Zee Double-Oh Em,

Box Three Five-Oh,

Boston, Mass.


Send it to Zoom!

Oh, and pants status on the conference call?  Indeterminable.

UPDATE DEUX:  Out of curiosity, I went back and checked the archives.  The “Zoom” I refer to above is the educational series that ran in the 70’s and featured singing and dancing middle-schoolers.  Evidently, there have been some other shows and movies of the same name but different content since then. Sorry if there was any confusion.

And now you all may get off my lawn.

UPDATE TROIS:  Yup, just got a noozflash from work HQ not to use Zoom because security reasons.  One part of me shakes its metaphoric head in sadness.  The other part rolls on the floor laughing.  What a very stupid time to be alive.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo managed to score a mega-pack of TP at Tarjay this morning!  (This’ll be the stuff to tell our grandchildren some day!)

Ol’ Robbo’s plague-beard continues to come along apace.  Not yet Grizzly Adams territory, but I seem to have plenty of time still.

So far the tele-work/tele-education arrangements seem to be working out reasonably well.  We’ve put up a schedule of office hours/class times to remind everyone to be extra quiet and respectful.  Middle Gel is even doing choir rehearsals on-line.

Everybody else in the house is doing on-line video sessions of one kind or another.  Ol’ Robbo is not.  Ol’ Robbo is going to resist any attempt to make him do so with every fiber of his being.

Of course, I’m at it all day (work, that is).  And I’ve come to the conclusion that lurking full time in my basement office is going to turn me into a potato.  Fortunately, it’s just warm enough today to merit moving out on to the porch.  (There must be fifty robins in my immediate neighborhood chirping at each other.)

We’ve gone to full time family dinners that past couple weeks now.  (We didn’t used to during the work week because I get home too late.)  So far, no casualties.

Well, there is plenty to gripe about out there, but I will just leave you with these little happy thoughts for now.  I hope all you friends of the decanter are plowing through and don’t have to deal with major disruptions or catastrophes coming out of this pig’s breakfast.

Time for more cofevve!

UPDATE:  Moar Small Winnings

Went for a pre-dinner walk with Eldest Gel.

Mrs. R brought home a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and plopped it out on the kitchen table for anybody to fool with as they passed by.  It’s a cartoon collage of movie characters.  The very top, right corner is the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Black Knight: I’m invincible! 

King Arthur: You’re a loony.

That makes me laugh each and every of the umpteen times I’ve seen that film.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself in a foul mood this morning.

Part of it is fueled by the fact that, contra my post immediately below, Bishop Burbridge has now wimped out.

Part of it is my irritation over the mealy-mouthed, formulaic language everyone has adopted to justify the current disruption.  If Ol’ Robbo has to read or hear “the safety and health of our employees/customers/parishioners/students/guests/patrons/teammates is our highest priority” too many more times, he’s going to get violent.

Part of it is my increasing certainty that we are all being hoorawed.  I don’t deny that the coronavirus presents some issues worthy of care and concern.  But I think the full-blown panic that has been whipped up in response has more to do with Rahm Emanuel’s famous dictum about how “you never let a serious crisis go to waste”.  In other words, to the extent it ever really was, this is no longer a medical matter but a politickal one.  (Or, to be more precise, lots of politickal ones, as there are many, many agendas out there.)

Part of it is just that I need another cup of coveffe.

By the bye, while Ol’ Robbo’s work VPN and iThingy seem to be working fine, his laptop innertoob connection is a bit spotty at the moment for some mysterious reason  So don’t be surprised if my posting is the same.



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.






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July 2020