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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry about the dearth of posties the last few days. Far from taking time away from the screen, I’ve instead become a busy, busy bee with work (my other screen) and am likely to stay that way for a while. Thus, posting will prolly be a bit spotty.

Feel free to help yourselves to another glass of port.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself with no particular place to go and nothing in particular to do today, everything being already teed up for the celebrations. Indeed, I could have spent the whole day loafing in robe and jammies. However, I’ve never been able to stand that: At a certain point I must get showered and dressed. Otherwise, I start to get the heebie-jeebies.


The Storm of the Century of the Week blew through the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor this morning, dropping heavy, non-sticking snow for about twenty minutes. The skies are clearing out now but the wind continues to howl and the temperature plummet. It occurs to Ol’ Robbo that he needs to up the birds’ rations today – they look like they could use them.

Middle Gel remarked that she’s happy she’s not out in Indiana today, as the low in Bloomington was -7. Oh, she’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience the joys of a Midwest Wintah soon enough. My personal record low was -17, together with a screaming wind, experienced one morning in Cheyenne. That was the first time I ever felt the cold as an entity that would actually kill me if I gave it half the chance.


Speaking of which, this is the first vacation in which it feels like the Elder Gels are visiting rayther than coming home. Most interesting. As I recall, I felt the same sort of dynamic from the other side, as it were, my first year of grad school. (The first time I felt that the change was coming was Christmas my junior year in college. It hit me one day while I was sitting and talking with the Mothe. I admit I burst into tears.)


Tonight, in the spirit of things, I gather we’re all going to watch “Home Alone” together. Ol’ Robbo confesses he hasn’t actually seen this film since it was in the theatres however many years ago. (Don’t tell me.) Another time maybe I can get them all to watch “Scrooged” with Bill Murray, an inexplicably under-rated movie in my humble opinion. (I mean, it’s got John Houseman, Robert Mitchem, and Bobcat Goldthwaite in it. What more could one ask?)

Also in the spirit, it would seem Mrs. R found a little indoor mini-s’mores making device. Hard pass on that for Ol’ Robbo, who has never liked sweets and grows more and more intolerant of them as the years go by. (Perhaps I’ll break into the Laphroigh instead.)


Speaking of the spirit, somehow Ol’ Robbo managed to come through without getting thoroughly browned off by premature Christmas musick this year. Don’t ask me how, but there it is. (I thought hearing Willie Nelson sing “Holly, Jolly Christmas” right after Thanksgiving was going to get me, but I managed to weather it.)


“I Read the News Today, Oh Boy” Dept. Why has it suddenly become double-plus ungood wrong think to raise questions about Ukrainian President Zelensky, or indeed to treat him as anything other than a Hero?*** Hard pass on that, as well. I know a gal who declared the other day “Zelensky Day” on FacePlant after he spoke to Congress. Of course, this is the same gal who on the day of the January 6th protests felt compelled to inform her FacePlant audience that she and her family were “all safe home and sound”. She lives twenty miles from downtown Dee Cee. Wanker. Do you wonder why Ol’ Robbo grows daily more skeptical of and disgusted with the current state of things?

***Rhetorical question. Ol’ Robbo knows perfectly well why.


“And Robbo Wept, For There Were No More Wu’s to Conquer” Dept. Speaking of such things, I’ve just about finished my latest cycle through the complete works of Mr. Evelyn Waugh, having only his collected correspondence with Nancy Mitford left to go. Each time I read him, I become more firmly convinced that he really is my favorite author of all time.


Well, that should be enough for those two or three of you who gather together here. (I truly hope you enjoy these musings – just as I went to hit “post” the first time I discovered my wifi had cut out on me and only my first sentence had been saved, so I had to retype the whole dang post from memory. D’oh!) I will duly put up a Christmas Card tomorrow here as I decorate the rest of Port Swiller Manor, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s that time of year when every Saturday starts to include multiple trips out into the woods behind Port Swiller Manor with a tarp full of leaves (from the driveway, sidewalks, and front ditch) over my shoulder and the heavier footwear is indicated. As regular friends of the decanter will already know, I’ll be griping about this steadily well into January.

In the meantime, mowing the lawn is as much about mulching (other) leaves as it is cutting grass. Ol’ Robbo actually loves this. There is a very pleasing sense of order from chaos when I behold the sharp line between the bright, green grass over which I’ve already passed and the jumbled yellows, reds, and browns of the way in front of me.

Of course, this is only a fleeting illusion since the leaves continue to come down. One of our first blog friends back in the earlies was a site called TexasBestGrok. His tag line read, “Like cutting water with a knife”. I often think about that this time of year.

But isn’t that the story of Civilization anyway?

By the bye, the word is doubtlessly flying about the decanter: Where are Ol’ Robbo’s Bean boots? Well, I generally save those for the colder, wetter weather. This pair of Timberlands actually has a bit of a history. Something over ten years ago I had to go out to the Quad Cities to take some depositions. I swear that I checked the weather prior to the trip and nothing was in the forecast. However, when we got to Chicago we learned that a blizzard was inbound in the next day or so. I’d brought nothing but regular shoes with me. Fortunately, my colleague was from the western burbs and knew of an outlet mall right along the highway we were taking, so I stopped in and bought these. As it turned out, I certainly needed them. (I tried to expense them as a biznay necessity when I got back but was indignantly declined.) Anyhoo, they’ve held up very well ever since.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

All these years, Ol’ Robbo has studiously avoided the fever swamp that is Twitter. I’ve never had an account, never posted anything there, and don’t read it except sometimes when somebody reposts a link at another website. Nope, nope, nope.

That said, I am enjoying the Elon Musk takeover saga bigly. Yugely, even.

It’s a good thing I stocked up on all that popcorn.

Let the entertainment proceed!

UPDATE: Per RBJ’s comment, Not The Bee’s Musk Meme Roundup. Are you not entertained?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Being exiled from the Port Swiller Manor basement and its electronic entertainments for the time being, Ol’ Robbo took his DVD player with him and successfully hooked it up to the flat screen in one of the Gels’ bedrooms. That’s a pretty good achievement, given my lack of technological chops.

However, I had to get ambitious. For reasons beyond me, the picture wasn’t formatting for the full screen but instead was rayther squashed up. In trying to correct this, I seem to have turned on the closed-captioning and damme if I can figure out how to turn it off again.

I swear I found the right button on the DVD remote. I swear I found the “cc” function and turned it to “off”. Indeed, I went round the world of the “audio” functions, at one point even turning the soundtrack into dubbed French. And yet, here we still are.

Part of me wonders if this is not the DVD player itself but instead some sort of built-in, nefarious do-gooderism of the Gel’s screen. So far, I haven’t managed to figure out the “functions” on that thing.

Ah, well.

As it happens, Ol’ Robbo watched “Blazing Saddles” last evening. I have to admit that hearing “I Get A Kick Out Of You” in canned French was amusing, as were some of the attempted captions. I don’t know how that’s done these days but took a malignant pleasure in the thought of some snerp cringing away over his earphones and keyboard. (If I’m wrong about this, don’t tell me.)

While on the subject, I will just say here that when I try to watch Brooks movies as movies, I’m disappointed. When I get it in my head that they’re really just series of gags and one-liners strung together, I find them much more entertaining. The only exception to this rule, in my humble opinion, is “Young Frankenstein” (which I always watch on Halloween) and I believe Gene Wilder wrote most of that.

Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, fourteen years ago today, Ol’ Robbo decanted the port, set out the Stilton, and invited you all to take a pew. Hard to believe it’s been that long. (Those of you who remember my prior gig at the Llama Butchers will know that place only lasted for about five years, yet it still seems like I blogged longer there than here. Go figure.)

Stumping along behind the lawnmower this morning, to keep my mind off the long, wet grass with which I had to deal due to all the rain we’ve had lately, Ol’ Robbo got noodling about the years this place has seen, and what has changed.

Certainly it’s been witness to the Gels growing up. Back in 2008 we were on the leading edge of the terrible early teen years. Somehow or other, as reported here from time to time, we managed to weather them, and now the Gels are all in their 20’s and on the cusp of starting their next chapters.

On this day in 2008, Ol’ Robbo was still a newbie Catholic, too. I haven’t really blogged about that very much in more recent years, prolly because my Convert Derangement Syndrome has been steadily wearing off and I’ve realized what a crashing bore I must have been. But I got a whiff of a rumor this morning about a potentially Very Bad Thing that will directly impact on my worship, so I may start giving vent to such issues again soon. One thing I will say if I have not made it plain before: I do not care for Pope Francis.

Also on this day in 2008, I expect I still believed that the G.O.P. Establishment had my best interests in mind. Ol’ Robbo was a big fan then of writers such as George Will, Peggy Noonan, and the gangs at National Review and The Weekly Standard. Whelp, that’s gone completely out the window: It’s become crystal clear in recent years that the only thing the GOPe cares about is the GOPe. (Ol’ Robbo has a small collection of books by these authors. Just on principle I can’t bear the idea of throwing them (or any other books) away, but I have moved them to the Shelf of Shame in my basement.)

Finally, Ol’ Robbo was in his early 40’s back then, and of course due to math, is now in his later 50’s. I’m happy to report that I’m still in good shape and about the same weight, but I was somewhat surprised when I started my plague-beard last year just how much white there is in it.

So! What do the next fourteen years hold?

Well, on the domestic front my obvious hope is marriages and grandkids.

As far as Holy Mother Church goes, a priest friend of mine likes to quote an Italian proverb that “after a fat Pope comes a thin one”. Things will change again.

And on the politickal front? I begin to see signs that the pendulum has reached the top of its arc and is starting to swing the other way. For all its self-protective fecklessness, I doubt the GOPe remains relevant very much longer.

Anyhoo, thankee to all of you who have dropped in here over the years, whether on a daily basis or just every now and again! Bumpers all round, ladies and gentlemen, gun’ls under! Here’s three times three and no heal taps! Huzzay! Huzzay! Huzzay!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Long time friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo’s periodic rantings about the ongoing water issue at Port Swiller Manor: Heavy rain causes the field drains on the driveway to clog, the water backs up into the garage, and, by a still-undiscovered process, makes its way down into the basement.

The study, where it usually collects, now has an imitation-wood ceramic floor, so it’s usually just a case of waiting for it to dry out, but the main room is covered in Pergo.

Well, as I’ve mentioned, it’s been a very rainy summah around here, sooooooo………

Yes, we had a downpour last week that wound up flooding the main room good and proper. The rugs were soaked, the water got under the Pergo and warped up all the edges, and mold started sprouting up everywhere.

No more. Never again. I think this is the second Pergo floor we’ve lost down there, and it has finally sunk in on me that this is a mug’s game. Yesterday, Mrs. R and I simply ripped it all out.

Eventually we’ll finish the main room in the same fake-wood ceramic tile as the study, but in the meantime I’m perfectly content to live with the bare concrete slab. (The good nooz? No visible cracks in it, so at least we’ve got that going for us.)

As far as the leak goes, I still have no real clues. I know which wall the water comes through because of the sediment it leaves, but I still don’t know how it gets there in the first place. All I’ve got is that the flooding starts when the water reaches a certain depth in the garage, but that may just be correlation with it getting high enough somewhere else to get in. I dunno. We’ve had handymen and remodelers have a go at fixing it over the years with no real success. I think we may need to find an engineer at this point.


Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out To Get You UPDATE: So there’s a card in the mail today from some outfit called The Tile Company inviting us to take out one of their credit cards and get 20% off our first purchase! Did Mrs. R’s iPhone thingy tip them off that we were doing tear-down yesterday? Ol’ Robbo would not be at all surprised. *Adjusts tinfoil hat*

G’day, my fellow port-swilling Sheilas and Bruces! **

Well, the Great Australian Semester is officially under way. Mrs. Robbo and I dropped Youngest (and, apparently, her collection of lead ingots) at the airport Saturday afternoon. She reached her final destination late last evening. Thirty or so hours of travel time, including a 15 hour leg from San Francisco to Melbourne that would have had your humble correspondent gibbering and clawing at the windows before it was half done. I can’t even imagine what that must be like.

Anyhoo, she’s now safely in Cairns, which is way up in the far northeast corner of the continent***, for a week’s orientation, which I gather includes some snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. After that she tools down to Brisbane, where she’ll be at the Queensland University of Technology. Fair dinkum!

Of course, it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere now, and Ol’ Robbo was fretting about the Gel packing enough warm clothing. But when I looked up the weather in Brisbane, I discovered that it really doesn’t change much over the year – 80’s in summah, 70’s in wintah. “Huh,” I said to myself, “Rayther like San Diego, innit?” Out of curiosity, I checked: The two cities are within about 5 degrees of latitude of each other north and south of the Equator. So there you go.

The Gel is now 14 hours ahead of us, so we probably won’t speak much while she’s away, but the WhatsUp account I mentioned below is alive and kicking, so we’ll get regular updates. As is well known here, Ol’ Robbo is not generally a fan of whistles and bells technology (especially when it claims to be “free”), but in this instance it definitely has its advantages. (Even the ticket lady at the airport asked if we had set up a chat.) Should the Gel send along any interesting pics, I’ll be sure to post them here.

** Given the dystopia Australia has become, I would guess “Sheila” and “Bruce” are probably hate-speech by now.

*** Do NOT ask Ol’ Robbo why the Gel had to go all the way to Melbourne before turning north to Cairns, another three-and-a-half hour flight. I didn’t buy the tickets. It was all arranged through the program, so I assume they have their own nefarious reasons. If the jump across the Pacific hadn’t killed me, the thought of having to go that far round Robin Hood’s Barn would have.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A couple weeks ago, my office started using Microsoft Teams for its daily electronic sign-in sheet.

Even in the midst of banging on my desk and pulling out my hair in my frustration and disgust over having to deal with this wayward, cussed platform, I have to laugh a bit over the fact that I’m pretty sure everyone else is united with me in my opinion of it.

“Teams” indeed.

UPDATE: Oh, speaking of technology, Youngest Gel sets off tomorrow for her semester abroad in Australia. Research revealed that keeping in contact via Verizon text messages would be prohibitively expensive, so a family WhatsApp chat has been established. (One of the Gels said “It’s free!” I said, “No, there’s no such thing as ‘free’. Value is being extracted out of us somehow.”) Testing it out, we’re already falling into Aussie slang. I expect this will continue. Fair dinkum! G’day, mates!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As Ol’ Robbo made his way down to the office yesterday, it suddenly occurred to him that he was the only person on the Metro, as far as he could see, reading a genuine dead-tree book.** Everybody else had their noses stuck in their personal electronic devices.

It made me feel like an outright dinosaur.

I would assume that some given percentage of said devices were running e-books, but a glance around those in my immediate neighborhood took in only games, chat, and videos.

I mention all this not to sound like a thnob, but instead because the paperless phenomenon has never struck me so hard before. (Then again, I haven’t ridden the Metro consistently for years, so there’s likely been a gradual process while I wasn’t paying attention.)

I know I’ve said it here, perhaps many times, but I could never get comfortable with an e-book. I already get more screen time than I should. (My eyes are usually streaming by the end of the day.) And I just can’t stand the idea of being dependent on a bunch of electrons that can be lost, corrupted, deleted, edited, or taken away from me at a whim. (**Gives WordPress the side-eye**) Give me good, solid ink and tree pulp every time.

I’m just waiting for the day when some little kid on the train points at my book and says, “Mommy, what’s that?

** P.G. Wodehouse, Money in the Bank. One of Plum’s best, in my humble opinion.


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January 2023