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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see it’s been a few days since my last harrumph here. No need for concern: I simply haven’t had much to say. Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. Lawd knows there’s more and more insanity out there to talk about every day. Say, rayther, that I’ve simply kept my thoughts to myself.

In any event, I hope all you friends of the decanter had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend? When not laboring in the yard, Ol’ Robbo spent most of his binge-reading Rider Haggard and P.C. Wren. Just because. (BTW, there’s a passage in Beau Geste where John describes a long journey across Saharan Africa. He says he saw many wonderous things, but no, no lost civilizations of Egyptian origin or beautiful, mysterious sorceress. It occurs to me this might have been a bit of a dig at Haggard.)

What with last evening’s blowout, Robbo’s hapless Nats have fallen to 18-32 which, without looking it up, I believe to be the worst record in MLB. (UPDATE UNO: No, not the worst but pretty damn close.) Over the weekend, the broadcasters and social media people were making much of the fact that the team had fallen to 19-31 back in 2019 before igniting and rocketing to the World Series win. I can’t say I blame them for this “Spirit of ’19” effort, but I just don’t see a repeat happening here, not with this crew. (If Ol’ Robbo is wrong, he’ll happily eat his words smothered in humble-sauce.)

We happen to have a full house at Port Swiller Manor, with all the Gels home for the present. (I can always tell Youngest is home even without seeing her because the milk suddenly vanishes.) It occurs to Ol’ Robbo that this has become the exception rayther than the rule and, especially this fall when everybody goes back to school, it will start to become downright rare. Tempus fugit.

Speaking of which, Mrs. R will be out of town this coming weekend for a tennis tournament. Ol’ Robbo was fool enough to casually mention something about how it would be an excellent time for me to repaint our bedroom, as well as paint the upstairs hall (which has never been painted in all the years we’ve lived here). Me and my big mouth.

Well, endeavor to persevere.

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of home improvement, Ol’ Robbo invested in a bug-zapper for the porch this morning, the screens not holding back as many gnats and flies as one could wish anymore. (Rotten stinker cats and their claws!) First one I’ve ever owned. Is it childish of me to look forward so much to snap, crackle, and pop?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Lynx-eyed friends of the decanter will recall that as recently as yesterday Ol’ Robbo was mentioning his suspicion of modern communications technology. Well, damme if another piece of evidence hasn’t fallen into my lap to enforce said suspicion.

The latest exhibit comes in the form of couples’ long distance “touch bracelets”. (Just go to the devil’s website and search for same.) Evidently, when one half presses their bracelet, the other half’s vibrates or glows or otherwise responds. (I gather it works through Bluetooth, which is something else I don’t really understand but believe to have almost infinite range.)

The Young Person who informed Ol’ Robbo of the existence of these gadgets thinks they’re a great idea, being on the cusp of a long distance relationship herself. I suppose that when I was young and gooshy (stop laughing, I was, once upon a time), I’d have thought the same. Now in my wiser years, however, I agree with Admiral Akbar: It’s a trap!

“I touched you but you didn’t respond! What’s wrong?”

“You’re not touching me as much as you did at first! What’s wrong?”

“You keep saying you’re busy with work. You can’t even press a button on your wrist? What’s wrong?”

“You weren’t wearing your bracelet? What’s wrong?”

You get the idea.

The potential capacity of this kind of 24/7 electronic hovering gives Ol’ Robbo a case of the screaming heebee-jeebees, and I know what I’m talking about because Mrs. R is an incessant, compulsive texter herself. At least with that there’s usually some kind of actual content. Usually.

Ah, give me the days when people separated by circumstances wrote letters to each other. The effort of composition, the anticipation of response. Does anybody even do that anymore? (Yes, this is my lawn.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t much in him by way of profundity at the moment, but he did get to touch this weekend on two of the little things in life that he thoroughly enjoys: useless movie trivia and the weather.

As to the first, Eldest Gel and I ran off “Land of the Pharaohs**” (1955) Saturday evening, Howard Hawks’ lavish tale of Ye Olde Egypt, with a screenwriting credit to William Faulkner. I’ve seen it a number of times before and already knew that it was, if not the first, at least one of the very first roles of Joan Collins, and also that it holds some kind of record as to numbers of extras involved. What I did not realize before (until Eldest pointed it out) is that the part of the Captain vamped by Collins into betraying Jack Hawkins’ Pharaoh was played by Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s son. Indeed, Ol’ Robbo knows little to nothing of Charlie Chaplin’s biography and didn’t even know he had children. Once seen, however, the resemblance is obvious. (It’s in the eyes.)

As to the second, regular friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo’s deep suspicion of modern communications technology, but I must confess that it assisted*** me in defying Ma Nature last evening. Keeping a close watch on the weather “app” on my iPhone thingy, I was able to perfectly time dashing outside to grill din-dins between two thunderstorms, getting the coals going just as the first rolled off (indeed, an afterthought of a lightning bolt came down pretty near me) and scurrying back in with the meats just as the next arrived. HA! (Of course, Bob at the NSA probably noticed, too, and I’m sure the incident will be brought up at my show-trial when the Truth and Reconciliation Board eventually gets its claws on me.)

So there you have it.

**For some mysterious reason, “Pharaoh” is one of those words Ol’ Robbo has the dickens of a time spelling correctly. After swearing at WordPress for repeatedly redlining me, I sheepishly had to go and look it up.

***Emphasis on “assisted” – my own eyes are still my primary information source.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those friends of the decanter who spent all day yesterday fretting about a lack of posties here can be of good cheer: Ol’ Robbo has neither been eaten by bears nor dragged to the dungeons of the new Disinformation Governance Board Ministry of Truth. Yet. Instead, he’d simply had his first full day back in the office since the whole covidiocy lockdown thing started over two years ago.

I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the slightest bit worth the effort.

For one thing, I had not a single task that I couldn’t have done just as easily from my home work station.

For another, hardly anybody else was there anyway.

For a third, as I will only be going in once a week, I’m now sharing an office with two other fellahs, which means that personalization is dialed back to the minimum. My Hannah Duston bobblehead has been quietly retired to the Port Swiller Manor basement.

Were Ol’ Robbo a skeptical sort, he might suspect that the only reason he’s compelled to make such a token appearance is to justify his department’s footprint in the building.

Then there’s the commute. I haven’t missed riding the metro at all, at all, and yesterday reminded me exactly why. At least I didn’t have to wear a mask, although most of the sheep on the trains did. (Oh, and I also spent 70 bucks filling up my gas tank. Sweet Fancy Moses.)

And to cap it all off, I got ticketed for the very-expired safety inspection sticker on La Wrangler. I know the cops cruise the metro parking lots looking for exactly this sort of thing but had hoped I could get away with it just this once. In Ol’ Robbo’s opinion, this practice of the Thin Blue Line is unsportsmanlike, the equivalent of shooting a sitting bird. (Shouldn’t they be out stopping the rent-a-mobs instead?)

Anyhoo, there it is: Away from the ol’ laptop all day and too tired to type by the time I got home.

*** Spot the riff

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, this is one of those days when Ol’ Robbo pats himself on the back over his decision to abandon breaking-nooz politickal posting. How about some more wholesome nonsense instead?

Returning to Port Swiller Manor late Sunday, I observed that in my absence Spring had switched from “slowly” to “all at once” mode in these parts and that no, mowing couldn’t wait until next weekend. Heigh-ho.

Speaking of not waiting, Eldest Gel had been pulling her hair out because of some glitch in its computer system was sending her automated emails to the effect that she hadn’t yet accepted her grad school invitation and if she didn’t respond instanter, she’d be out permanently. This morning she finally tracked somebody down who could help her sort things out. Isn’t technology wonderful? Those who loudly complain that we don’t yet have flying cars ought to think twice about what they’re wishing.

Speaking of technology, why is it that nobody else in the Port Swiller Manor household understands the concept of putting a cap back on a pen? Is this process really that much of a challenge? You might say this is a very small thing, but so is a sesame seed stuck in one’s gum. Highly irritating.

Speaking of irritation, construction on the Versailles-wannabe across the way seems to have picked up again. They had dug a large hole, presumably for a new basement, and then left things for several weeks. Now there is a renewed outburst of banging and shouting going on, and Ol’ Robbo has seen several near-accidents over the past couple days as work rigs roll in and out of the driveway. (Actually, I enjoy watching the process. It’s mostly irritating simply because it cranks up Decanter Dog.)

Well, that’s about all for the moment. Told you it was nonsense. But then again, it didn’t spike your blood-pressure, did it?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, Homeland Security’s newly-announced Ministry of Truth hasn’t come round to scoop me in (yet). Just busy, plus the pollen is playing Old Harry with my ability to think straight at the moment. (Seems to get worse every year.)

Back soon.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers!

In case you missed it over the weekend, Jack Dorsey has kinda, sorta come out and admitted that Twitter is a garbage platform, perfectly fitted for top-down censorship and mob rule. (FacePlant is almost, if not quite, as bad.)

Ol’ Robbo won’t pretend that he was prescient enough to realize the full monstrous potential of the thing way back when, but I will say that I was aware enough to spot a wrong ‘un and stay well clear of it.

Alas, so many other bloggers (including my former partner-in-crime, Steve-O) listened to the siren song and quit the blogsphere to go play on the shiny new 140-character template, leaving Ol’ Robbo (at least) often feeling now like he’s typing for nobody but his cats.


Would that we could have a real bloggy renaissance and get back to the wild and woolly days of fifteen or twenty years ago! If friends of the coffee pot have ever wondered why Ol’ Robbo keeps his “Under the Table” blogroll of dead sites over on the left of your screen, it’s in tribute to the friends we made back in those days, and there isn’t a single time I log on that I don’t imagine how wonderful it would be to see some (or even any) of them come back to life. Each new Twooter or FacePlant un-personing outrage gives me some hope that something like that may yet happen.

In the meantime, here….kitty, kitty, kitty!

Timely UPDATE: Well, turns out there’s a story today that Elon Musk has bought up a good chunk of Twitter stock. He’s got a pretty good anti-censorship track record, but even if he burned the entire management of the place to teh ground (about which you may color me skeptical), I still wouldn’t use it for all the structural reasons noted above.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Still no joy on my laptop browser. Pages are loading but not completely, showing mostly images but no text. Beats me if the problem is systemic or just lil’ ol’ Robbo’s.

Typing one-thumbed on my phone, you’ll understand if I’m terse and largely substance-free, but I can’t stand the idea if going dark altogether and this is the best I can do right now.

Expect it very short and sweet, indeed epigrammatic, until this is all sorted out.

UPDATE: Give me joy, fellow port swillers!

After a little troubleshooting, Ol’ Robbo was able to deduce that whatever the problem was with Microsoft Edge, it seemed confined to my laptop. (It works fine on my work computer.) So, all by my own self, I downloaded Chrome onto my laptop. This is very much the extreme outer edge of my technical skillz, but I still managed it without the help of Eldest, who would have made me pay for her aid with endless mockery of my Luddite-like stature. Wait’ll I tell her!

Of course, I still don’t know what the original problem is, but in this instance, figuring out a workaround is just as good as solving it.

Now, back to Full Monty babbling!

Forehead-Slapping UPDATE DEUX: I forgot to mention the really clever part! No doubt the lynx-eyed among you were thinking, “But, Tom, didn’t you say Edge wasn’t working? How did you get on the innerwebz to find Chrome, then?” Well, when I was messing about and poking random buttons, I discovered that a copy of Internet Explorer was also tucked away in a very obscure folder. So I used that.

Again, this may sound like the village idiot figuring out how to use a wall switch to some, but I’m pretty durn proud of myself anyway.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo read the news today. Oh, boy. Eldest Gel remarked this morning, “This isn’t Clown World. Clowns are fun and harmless.*** This is way, way beyond Clown World.”

I made a trip to my meatspace office yesterday, only the second time since the onset of covidiocy, to pick up some upgraded equipment, including a fancy-shmancy hi-def webcam. It’s now perched on top of my work monitor, looking at me. The rational part of me insists it’s not on if it’s not plugged in, but my gut is now telling me to throw it in a drawer except when I actually need to use it.

Speaking of cameras, Ol’ Robbo has been hearing off and on that the Tolkien Estate sold out to Amazon, which is now in the process of doing a reboot of the history of Middle Earth chock-a-block with, how shall I put it, the latest sensibilities. I find this biznay of wearing the carcass of a beloved classic as a skinsuit to push an agenda to be depraved. Say whatever you like but build your own damn platform to do it! (Of course, I’ve no intention of watching the thing. And it’s too bad, really, because I’ve long thought LOTR would make excellent material for a mini-series.)

Speaking of classics, I may have mentioned that I’m rereading Anthony Powell’s great cycle A Dance to the Music of Time. I’ve again come across the passage in The Soldier’s Art in which the narrator, Nick Jenkins, purchases a military greatcoat at the beginning of WWII. In describing it, he states that it has a “shot at dawn cut”. Ol’ Robbo has puzzled over what this means for some years now, but I’m still no closer to a satisfactory answer.

Ol’ Robbo attended a very interesting meeting the other day: A couple of the alums of my old rowing team at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown CT came up with the idea of starting an endowment fund to purchase boats for the program to be named after the coach my junior and senior year who completely transmogrified the crew from a down and out mediocrity to a truly elite program (and transmogrified all of us in the process). When they announced a general interest zoom call, I only expected a handful of participants. As it turns out, thirty-seven folks dialed in, practically the whole damn squad from those two years. Says something about this coach’s influence. (By the bye, I hadn’t seen most of these guys in 35 years. Let’s just say age approaches each of us in very different ways.)

As a matter of fact, I’m meeting with the ringleader of this plan next week one on one. I’ve already warned him that with my modest salary and kids in school, Port Swiller Manor isn’t exactly awash in doubloons these days, but he’s eager to talk, nonetheless. That’s something Ol’ Robbo never could stand, trying to squeeze money out of people. Way, way back in the day, when I was on the vestry of my former Episcopal Church, pledge-drive time always filled me with dread and loathing, and I always felt hideously embarrassed cold-calling folks, even people I knew, at dinner time and urging them to pony up. Some other folks actually enjoy it, I guess.

Finally, to tie back to the title, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t “do” Presidents’ Day. I’ll celebrate in honor of Ol’ George next Tuesday, but most of the rest of them? Nah.

*** I actually disagree. Clowns are evil. But I understand what she was getting at. And if you ask, “Tom, what particular current events item was she discussing?” I’d say “pick one”.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s Father’s practice at Mass, after prayers for the sick and the dead, to invoke the various saints for the week going forward. I noticed yesterday a subtle but distinct rolling of the eye and clenching of the teeth when he asked St. Valentine to pray for us, nicely telegraphing what he thinks of the modern, hyper-commercial, completely secularized celebration of the day. Heh. Ol’ Robbo feels the same way. (I sent some flowers to my sister at Christmas from They’ve been riding my email folder 24/7 for weeks now.)

This should have been a happy week for baseball with the arrival of pitchers and catchers for spring training, but those of you who follow these things know that players and management are still wrangling over a new CBA. I don’t even attempt to wrap my poor braims around the various issues being worked out (most to do with money), as that way madness lies. The good news, at least from what I can garner from my Nats’ reports, is that both sides seem to be in earnest about getting to a deal. I hope so.

Oh, and I will just say here that no, I didn’t watch the Sooper Bowl. Not interested in the game, not disposed to watch propaganda pushed by Corporate Amerika.

On a different note, Youngest Gel is feeling much, much better after her recent bout of everybody’s favorite FrankenFlu. She’s still confined to solitary in Quarantine House for another four or five days, however, and I b’lieve she has to wear a placard reading “Unclean” for another week or two once she’s released. On that front, Ol’ Robbo sees the politickal winds starting to shift as well as anybody else. I’d emphasize that these are teh only kinds of wind blowing here: On a scientific basis, this thing (by which I mean the general lockdown, not special precaution for particular recognizable, endangered populations) should have been largely over by Easter 2020. Ol’ Robbo said so at the time and has been saying so ever since. Feh.

I should note that my Microsoft Edge browser seems to be going through some kind of metamorphosis with which I’ve been wrestling the past day or two via endless connection gaps and restarts of my laptop. (And there, Ol’ Robbo has just displayed the absolute outward limit of his technological knowledge and vocabulary.) It seems to have calmed itself down, now, but if I vanish for periods of time going forward, you’ll understand the probable reason why. In the meantime, it’s now giving me all sorts of talk about “syncing” and “sharing” and unwanted “personalizing” of my homepage. I believe this to be a sugar-coated way of saying “We’ve got a file open on you, Mister.” Ol’ Robbo will never be a big enough blogging fish to warrant a 3 AM no-knock raid on Port Swiller Manor, but if I do run afoul of Big Brother on some other point, I’m sure that file will surface at my show-trial.

Aaaaand on a final, pleasant note, it is snowing very prettily here this morning and I just saw the handsomest of foxes trot past my window.


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June 2022