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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Finally, finally, for the first time since about mid-May, ol’ Robbo is once again posting over the family Mac in the comfort and convenience of his basement lair.



So just a small sample of this and that to get back into the feel of things:

♦   Regular friends of the decanter may be wondering how the Eldest is doing her first week of college?  Well, as to be expected, the barometer has swung pretty wildly between “Stormy” and “Set Fair” as she begins to internalize just what she’s got herself into.  She reports that she took her first road trip over to Hamster-Squidney Friday evening and hated it. “Nothing but beer and pot,” was her dismissive summary.  (Scots Presbyterian roots run deep.)  Somehow or other, this rejection doesn’t bother ol’ Robbo very much.

♦  Do you know what a “tiguan” is?  Neither did ol’ Robbo.  Neither did the Volkswagen salesman from whom we bought a used one yesterday for the Middle Gel, who will be a high school junior this year.  He thought it had something to do with wind.  Turns out that it was just the idea of some German marketing-wallah who thought it would be hip to blend together the words “tiger” and “iguana”.  I’ve no idea why.

♦  In case you missed it, Tom Wolfe has a new book coming out entitled The Kingdom of Speech.  From the ad copy over at the devil’s website, it doesn’t sound like another one of his sledge-hammer social satires, but instead something of a more academic nature:

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech–not evolution–is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech.

Whatever you want to call it, I plan to pick up a copy.

Well, that’s enough to start.  As I mentioned below, ol’ Robbo is starting his summah hols, and since I’m not planning on going anywhere, I’ll probably spend a fair bit of time flittering about on the innertoobs, catching up with a bunch of blogs I haven’t been able to conveniently get too in my forced exile.

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to charge up the ol’ queue, which has been dry as a bone for about a month.  See you soon!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of this afternoon, Ol’ Robbo finally got to start his summah vacation.

Two (three?) weeks ago, I had planned to join the family, along with the family of the Former Llama Military Correspondent, at beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Ol’ Virginny, but was compelled instead to fly out to a court hearing in the Mountain West.

So much for that.

I also considered taking last week off, but again got kyboshed by court biznay.


Finally, though, I drew the line. I’m taking next week off, dammit, and that’s that. Perhaps it was the crazed look in my eye, but nobody down the office objected.

I’ve known I was worn out this past month, but I perhaps didn’t realize just how much until I came home early to Port Swiller Manor this afternoon and immediately fell asleep.

So what does Ol’ Robbo plan to do with himself until after Labor Day? Oh, the fun never ends! Monday, I finally get my contacts updated. (The eye-strain lately has been something fierce.  Probably should not be driving.). I also plan to whack back the forsythia to encourage better blooms next spring. And if I’m REALLY feeling wild, there’s probably an oil change in the near future.

Woo. Hoo.

As for posting, the long saga of the Port Swiller man cave floor ended this morning, so Ol’ Robbo will be re-connecting the House iMac tomorrow and can finally say goodbye to this iPhone thumb-blogging nonsense. Expect….blather.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Mrs. Robbo picked out the new tile for my basement man cave this morning, so hopefully I’ll finally be back to regular keyboarding by Sunday evening.

What NOVA Curmudgeon said about Mrs. R’s state over the looming departure of the Eldest in the post below sort of came home to me last evening when we got into a debate about whether to change the dog’s diet. (Mrs. R is forever tinkering because she doesn’t think the dog eats enough. My philosophy is to pick one brand and stick with it. When the dog gets hungry enough, she’ll eat.)

Anyhoo, because we’ve had this discussion about eleventy-billion times already, I said, “Look, will you please stop fussing about the dog?”

She replied, “Well, if I don’t fuss about the dog, then I’m going to start fussing about the Gel, and I just don’t want to go there right now.”

Being the sympathetic and understanding fellah that I am, I knew this was my cue. So I took her in my arms, looked deeply into her eyes, and said, “Well, if you’re going to fuss, can you at least do it quietly so I don’t have to listen to it?”

I reckon the bruise on my shin will heal up fine in a few days.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is appalled at the length of his extended absence from his bloggy round table.  My apologies to those two or three to whom this lowly blog makes any difference.  Where the hell has the summah gone?

The Port-swiller home computer still is not back on line and I am sending in this entry via my iThingy, which is a real pain, so I’ll keep this brief:

The good news is that Ol’ Robbo’s man cave should finally be put back together in the next couple weeks, with full communications restored.  The bad news is that I will have much to say on the milestone of the Eldest Gel going off to college, which I’m sure will bore most of you to death.  (Well,thT’s what the decanter is for.). So have another glass, keep faith, and stand by. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the recent dearth of posting.  Long story short is that we had yet another basement flood since my last one, finally driving the Eldest Gel to remove herself from said basement and move back into the upstairs bedroom we had been using as an office.  (I nearly herniated myself hauling things up and down the stairs.) I don’t care to reestablish the computer in the basement until we get this water biznay sorted out, so I am essentially off-line at the moment.   Indeed, I only have access right now because I needed to re-up my past-due car registration before the Ogpu got me.  I hauled the computer and printer back up to the gel’s room and am currently typing off the top of her dresser and will have to disassemble it again as soon as I log off.

Anyhoo, sooner or later I’ll be back to regular posts.  In the meantime, help yourselves to the decanter and the stilton is over there on the sideboard.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, ol’ Robbo is still around, although I confess that I have yet to finish the bottle of port I got in for the Christmas festivities.  (Some reveler I am.)

Anyhoo, I may have missed some regime change, but why will Safari and iMac suddenly not let me copy and paste Innernet links or YooToob videos?  (I was going to do a retrospective on the late David Bowie’s song “Changes” and ol’ Robbo’s varsity crew winter training at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT back in the day, but the ability to insert links suddenly seems to have disappeared from my screen.)

What gives?

UPDATE: Oh, I think I see.  Whereas previously the link to a specific page at, say, Amazon automatically appeared in the, er, linkie bar, now it just says “” and you have to click again to get the specific page address.  Or something.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will know what a Luddite ol’ Robbo is as a general rule, so I warn you now that you may be in for a bit of a shock.  Yes, I now seem to own an iPhone.

You see, for years and years now, to the extent I have used a cell phone at all, I have relied on an old Motorola flip-phone.  Why? Because it was the one given to me when we first got cell service and I’ve never bothered to upgrade, largely because I avoid the phone whenever possible and it always seemed adequate for the few times I’ve been forced to use it.  (In fact, I still don’t even know my own cell number.)

But if you’ll scroll down a bit, you’ll see some pics I took on my recent trip out West.  There, I was using a work-issued iPhone and decided to try out the camera function.  I have to admit that I rayther enjoyed it, although I realized that with a work phone, I was very, very limited in the sorts of things I could photograph and transmit.

I mentioned this casually to Mrs. R this weekend and it proved to be all the encouragement she needed to go and raid the Apple store.   There, she got an upgrade for herself, and arranged for me to take her old iPhone as a hand-me-down.



So I’ve been fiddling with the thing off and on today.  All I really wanted above and beyond basic cell service was the ability to take pictures and post them.  And does it work?  Well, here is the scene from this evening (and, indeed, most early evenings here at Port Swiller Manor) that I took while playing with it a while ago:

I hope you like it, as I would like to make my own pics a more regular part of my blogging.  (But this is absolutely as far as I go, technologically speaking!)

By the bye, how on earth do these calling plans work?  From what Mrs. R tried to tell me, it sounded as if Verizon paid her to do this double-switch.  Either she’s pulling my leg, or there are some strange, strange metrics that go into the pricing.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers! A rainy Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor allows me to duck mowing the lawn and instead bore those two or three who still gather over the decanter with my first impressions of the great state of Wyoming, or at least of its south-easternmost parts.  (Ol’ Robbo was taken camping in Yellowstone as a toddler, but that hardly counts.)

This area is pure High Prairie, the westernmost part of teh Great Plains lapping up against the Rockies, and resembles, in large part, nothing so much as the Ocean.  George Armstrong Custer puts it rayther well in the early part of his “My Life on the Plains”:

Starting from almost any point near the central portion of the Plains, and moving in any direction, one seems to encounter a series of undulations at a more or less remote distance from each other, but constantly in view.  Comparing the surface of the country to that of the ocean, a comparison often indulged in by those who have seen both, it does not require a very great stretch of the imagination, when viewing this boundless ocean of beautiful living verdure, to picture these successive undulations as gigantic waves, not wildly chasing each other to or from the shore, but standing silent and immovable, and by their silent immobility adding to the impressive grandeur of the scene.  These undulations, varying in height from fifty to five hundred feet, are sometimes formed of a light, sandy soil, but often of different varieties of rock, producing at a distance the most picturesque effect.

The constant recurrence of these waves, if they may be so termed, is quite puzzling to the inexperienced plainsman.  He imagines, and very naturally, too, judging from appearances, that when he ascends to the crest he can overlook the surrounding country.  After a weary walk or ride of perhaps several miles, which appeared at starting not more than one or two, he finds himself at the desired point, but discovers that directly beyond in the direction he desires to go rises a second wave, but slightly higher than the first, and from the crest of which he must certainly be able to scan the country as far as the eye can reach.  Thither he pursues his course, and after a ride of from five to ten miles, although the distance did not seem half so great before starting, he finds himself on the crest, or, as it is invariably termed, the “divide”, but again only to discover that another and apparently higher divide rises in his front, and at about the same distance.  Hundreds, yes, thousands of miles may be journeyed over, and this same effect witnessed every few hours.

In fact, thanks to modern speed (80 mph speed limit, baybee!), these “gigantic waves” do seem to chase each other wildly.  I’ve been on the Plains before, mostly in Illinois and Iowa.  I’ve driven between Omaha and Lincoln.  Because I flew in and out of Denver on this trip, I got a chunk of Northern Colorado, too.  But it was only once I got into Wyoming, especially north of Cheyenne, that I really got the full effect, most of these other areas being either urbanized or else thoroughly tamed farmland.  It was absolutely humbling – wave after wave after wave of land, all under an enormous sky.  However, it was not all plain sailing, because these hills are also broken up by a succession of creeks and rivers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those two or three of you who still gather over the decanter on a regular basis, I just wanted to let you know that I will be away on biznay travel this coming week, arriving back at Port Swiller Manor some time Friday afternoon.  (Eastern Wyoming this time, in case you’re interested, an area I’ve never visited.  My plan is to fly into Denver and drive up so that I can see a bit of the country.)

A few months back, Ol’ Robbo’s employer took away his Blackberry and wished on him an iPhone.  Although I generally hate change, and although I particularly hate the zombie-like stare that seems to come over so many iPhone users, it occurs to me that at least said iPhone has a camera, and that there’s really no good reason I perhaps can’t take some snaps on it and post them here.  (Teh Middle Gel promised to show me how.)

So start looking out next weekend for some pics.  I ‘ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, as always the port stands before you along with the walnuts and, as always, the Stilton is on the sideboard.  Feel free to tuck in.

UPDATE:  Wake the kids and phone the neighbors, ol’ Robbo has arrived home safe and sound.  And yes, I did take some pics and yes, I will put up a post this weekend incorporating them. (Not that I’ve been exactly inundated with requests, but I put nearly 700 miles on the rental car this week traveling about terra incognita, so  you’ll get Uncle Robbo’s slideshow, and you’ll like it!)

In the meantime, a couple travel notes:  I find that my irrational fear of flying grows steadily weaker for some reason.  Alas, all that brain capacity freed up now finds itself contemplating the more mundane hardships of commercial aviation, the crowds, the petty indignities, the endless blaring of CNN.  I’m not sure if the trade-off is worth it.

Coming back this afternoon, the fellah sitting next to me – who I gathered was from abroad – tried to give the stewardess his cup and napkin, inadvertently putting them in the wrong bag.  “We recycle,” she snapped.  “Some people don’t….but we do.”

After she passed, I let out a snort.  The fellah turned to me and shrugged.

“Let that be a lesson to you, young man,” I said, waiving my pen ponderously.

He shrugged again and muttered, “Nobody has ever been that rude to me here.”

Friendly Skies, indeed.

Oh, and on a more serious note, because I avoid CNN and USEless Today, I only got some of the details of the Marine massacre in Tennessee this afternoon.  God help the victims and their families.  One question:  Has anyone checked to see if the shooter had a Confederate flag?



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie.  Woo Hoo!

♦   Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning.  Thankee muchly for your recommendations.  It only took me two months to get around to it.  Procrastinate we much?

♦    Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more.   I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.

♦    I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week.  My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums.  True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny.  (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)

♦  I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year.   I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited.  [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.]  We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.

♦  Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger).  We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me.  The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.

♦   Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening.  I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows.  Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.

Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in.  Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me.  Don’t you let it, either.

UPDATE: Done and done.  Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care.  And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich.  FTW!

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