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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel was telling me about a dustup she got into with one of her ‘Murican history classmates about Christopher Columbus and how it’s so bad, awful, hurtful, etc., etc., to have a holiday in his honor.

I loosely paraphrase, but after said classmate got through her laundry list of Columbus Bad talking points, the Gel replied, “Look, nobody celebrates Columbus because of slavery, or because of the introduction of European disease, or because of Spanish plunder, and only an idiot would suggest that we do.  We celebrate Columbus because he made First Contact between Europe and the New World, without which contact you and I would not be sitting here fat, happy, safe, and free, and having this argument.  Columbus Day is really America Day.  That’s why we recognize him.”

That’s my gel!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is concerned that this Amazon Synod is bringing out a serious case of Francis Derangement Syndrome in some of his acquaintances, characterized by the swallowing of tongues and the screaming from rooftops at each new story of what Frankie allegedly said or did this time.  I don’t find this kind of thing to be particularly healthy for said swallowers and screamers.

Me? I’m largely giving it a pass.  Or at least invoking the 72 hour rule after each sensationalist headline hits the ether.  As far as I’m concerned, Fake Vatican News can be even worse than Fake Regular News, with agendas pushed harder and axes ground sharper, not to mention the perennial translation barriers, the haplessness of Vatican P.R., and the pig-ignorance and outright malice of so many of the so-called “experts”.  (The story I saw the other day was that Francis had denied the divinity of Christ.  Well, no he didn’t.)  I don’t doubt that Francis could get into some mischief, but I’m not going to blow a gasket falling for things like this.

Instead, I’m doing what our local Padre asked us to do, namely praying the Litany of St. Joseph, as well as a “Litany of Patron Saints for Family Life and Authentic Reform of the Clergy” which I think he might have put together himself.  The latter is especially interesting, in that it has introduced me to Saints I’ve never heard of before.  (Who were Ss. Louis and Zelie Martin, for example? Answer: The parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.)

And while we’re on the subject of Saints, St. John Henry Newman, ora pro nobis!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Before taking the deep plunge into the NLCS (*smacks lips, repeats*), how about a few odds and ends?

♦  Going back to the Metro after about an eight year hiatus, I notice that the number of people milling about the platforms with their noses buried in their iThingies has increased exponentially.  We hates that. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

♦  Speaking of which, I saw a young lady in my rear-view mirror last evening.  In one hand she held her iThingy.  In the other, a snack.  How the heck was she steering?

♦   Speaking of young ladies, Ol’ Robbo takes satisfaction in the fact that St. Greta of the How DARE You did not cop the Nobel Peace Prize this year.  Not that the NPP actually means anything, but still.  We take these little victories against the Madness whenever we can.

♦  Speaking of madness, I saw an amusing headline over to YahooNooz this morning (not linking because Yahoo has gone insane) that some WNBA player was angry at the lack of respect being shown to their finals.  Ol’ Robbo frequently forgets that the WNBA even exists.  As for the NBA, pretty alarming how beholden they turn out to be to the ChiComs, no?  Thank Heaven pro baseball has largely avoided politization, at least so far.  I’ve never cared about basketball anyway, but it would be a real blow to have to give up MLB.

♦  Speaking of living the Counter-Culture Life, Ol’ Robbo caught Apocalypto on the cables last evening.  (I think somebody was doing a little Columbus Day trolling.)  Eldest had recommended it to me and I found it quite fascinating, the ending quite shiver-making.  I’ve no idea how accurately it portrays the pre-Columbian Maya and this is Mel Gibson after all, but from what I do know I would guess it isn’t far off.  Noble Savages they were not.

♦  And speaking of movies, Ol’ Robbo has been on a Shakespeare kick recently.  I’ve been reworking my way through the old Age of Kings series (how can one not like Sean Connery as Hotspur facing off against Robert Hardy’s Prince Hal?), and the other day watched the late-70’s Beeb production of As You Like It featuring the young Helen Mirren.  (Not quite the shmokin’ hot Excalibur Helen Mirren of a couple years later, but this is Shakespeare, not shlock.)  Those late 70’s/early 80’s Beeb productions tend to be hit or miss, but this is one of the better ones.

Whelp, that’s enough for now.  A four day weekend for Ol’ Robbo.  I need to run some errands this morning and get in nacho supplies for tonight’s NLCS opener (*smacks lips again*).  Tomorrow will be a genuine fall yardwork day.  And I believe Middle Gel is coming home for a visit Sunday.  Good times.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was busy at work on the Port Swiller Manor porch this morning** when he suddenly smelled a funny odor, that distinct odor of something burning.

I went into the kitchen to track it down (the porch doors were open) and immediately realized it was coming from the dishwasher, in which I had set a load running a short time previously.

I pulled open the door, hoping that perhaps something plastic simply had fallen on the heating element at the bottom and melted there, but no joy.  I still dunno where exactly the stench was coming from, but it wasn’t from anything I’d put in the thing.  (It smelled like burning wires, actually.)


You know you’ve been a homeowner a long time when you start thinking in terms of appliance life-spans.  The dishwasher was not among the original fixtures when we bought the place (the only one of those remaining is the washing machine****), but we put it in within about two years of moving here.  That would make it around seventeen years old, which I suppose is a pretty decent run.  It was on its last legs anyway.  Cleaning power has dropped noticeably and a number of the cross-bars in the lower basket have rusted out, making loading a tricky thing.  (And guess who’s the only one around here who seems to appreciate that?)

So, here we are.  Any pro-tips about desirable makes and models would be appreciated.  I fear that “eco-friendly” restrictions have probably rendered most current options pretty much useless.

Not that I’m in any particular hurry to cough up the dosh for a replacement.  We’re down to three occupants at the moment, and even though one of them is a seventeen year old who seems to eat about six meals a day, washing by hand is very doable.  (And a drying rack is very cheap.)


**Tele-working, that is.  And I was definitely wearing pants, as it was rayther chilly and rainy today.

**** Which Youngest seems hell-bent on destroying, as she madly overloads it despite my repeated warnings not to.

UPDATE:  Friend of the Decanter Sleepy Beth’s mention of dishwasher noise in the comments provokes a bit of reminiscence and a confession that I actually like the sound of the thing running.

You see, back in Ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot, the Old Gentleman typically toddled off to bed pretty early, but the Mothe was quite the night-owl.  Like me (and I suppose that’s where I got it), she needed a certain amount of alone time each day.  So she’d stay up late, usually reading.  Typically, the last thing she would do in the evening before heading off herself was to run the dishwa’ar (as we called it, for some reason).  I was usually still awake then, and hearing it became a sort of “Last Post” to me, a sign that all was safe and secure for the night.

Yes, I’m strange.  But you knew that already.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s has been hard-pressed to find any bloggy inspiration this week, mostly because his allergies have been playing merry hob with him.  (I understand there’s a lot of ragweed in the air at the moment round here.)  But I’ll give it a try.

♦  First, a glass of wine to Robbo’s beloved Washington Nationals who, despite digging themselves a horrible hole in the first two months of the season, managed to fight their way back and clinch a wildcard berth this week.  (I watched the clinch Tuesday night and was later severely rebuked for my, um, enthusiasm.  The ladies of Port Swiller Manor do not appreciate me yelling at the teevee late in the evening.  Sad.)  I’ll be perfectly honest:  I don’t believe we’ll get very far in the post-season simply because our bullpen is still so shaky.  But I’m nonetheless proud that we made it to October ball at all.  (And that includes kudos for Manager Dave Martinez, whose head I admit having called for during the early slump.)  And as for the future? What can one say except GO, NATS!!!

♦  One of the factors fueling the pollen issue I mention above is the fact that we really haven’t had any rain in several weeks now.  I don’t think anyone’s using the “D” word yet, but I did feel compelled to drag my soaker hose out to the pachysandra bed this week.  The lawn, on the other hand, can go to hell.

♦  Youngest Gel starts training for a side-gig over at Starbucks next week.  I generally avoid giving any money to Starbucks because, well, Starbucks.  But I’ve no qualms at all about taking money from them.  (The Gel took the initiative to get a job on her own, by the bye.  We’re very proud of her for that.)

♦  As for all the headlines?  Res ipsa loquitur.  I think what stops the Neo-Maoists from totally implementing their Great Leap Forward here at the moment is that we’re neither Chinese peasants nor Russian serfs, and cannot be so easily brainwashed or buffaloed.  Of course they’re trying to change that through the schools (and open boarders, and gun confiscation), but again, I don’t think they’re quite there.  Yet.  I’m not worried about my kids.  I am worried about my grandkids.

Well, perhaps that’s enough for now.  Ol’ Robbo has to get himself to the store, as I am cooking dinner for Mrs. R’s ‘rents, who are passing through town on their semi-annual migration along the Eastern Seaboard.  Fortunately, they really seem to like the way I grill salmon.

UPDATE:  The salmon was a success.  The In-laws heaped great praise upon it and, more to the point, they ate all of it.

It’s funny because I don’t do anything special.  I simply coat the filets with olive oil and cook them over charcoal in a Weber fish basket.  To the extent there’s any art involved, it consists of making sure they’re cooked all the way through (the thought of underdone fish revolts me) without scorching them.  It’s just a question of turning them about and flipping them from time to time and not getting them too close to the hottest part of the coals.

What’s even funnier is that I personally loathe fish unless it’s fried.  (And even then, it’s not my favorite.)  But in keeping with my mackeral snapper practices, I pulled a spicy shrimp BBQ recipe off the innertoobs at random which turned out to be pretty durn good.  I pass it along (with my personal modifications) for your consideration:

First, the coating:

Garlic – the recipe calls for one clove only, Vasili,** but this is nonsense.  I used the majority of a head.  In the Robbo lexicon, there is no such phrase as “too much garlic”.

1 teaspoon course salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used four – see my comment above re garlic)

Mash up the garlic (I used a press) and add all the other ingredients.  Beat into a paste.

The recipe says this is enough for 2 1/2 pounds of shrimp, which I think is wildly optimistic.  But then I like my coatings heavy.  I found these amounts just enough to cover half a pound.

Next, the preparation and cooking:

The recipe also says to “toss” the coating with the shrimp, but that’s messy.  Instead, I skewered the shrimp flat-wise and painted the paste on both sides with a brush.  I also let it all marinate for about two hours.

Then, grill on the barbie until cooked all the way through.  When I marinated the skewers, I did so in a disposable aluminum baking pan.  When ready to cook, I simply put the pan on the grill.  The heat is distributed very evenly, the shrimp stay moist, and clean-up is a breeze.

Serve on a bed of rice.

Enjoy!  But do not count on being kissed by your spouse afterwards.  (See my comment above re garlic.)


** Spot the reference



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is it, or is it not, ironic that the Babylon Bee hits far closer to the Truth with its satire than does the MSM (yeah, I’m looking at you, Gray Lady and WaPo) with its alleged “reporting”.

I was going to save comment on the story about seminary students confessing their “climate sins” to houseplants until Sunday, but this from the Bee had me spraying coffee all over my monitor this morning.


UPDATE:  The original Union Seminary confession-to-houseplants story.  Who was it said something to the effect that every nature-worship cult eventually winds up with human sacrifice?  These people can go first.

Also, I didn’t know about it till this morning, but evidently there’s supposed to be some global kid school walkout today to protest, you guessed it, Glowball Enwarmening.  Because concerns.  A pro tip for these mush-minded young innocents:  History teaches that Childrens’ Crusades don’t turn out very well for the kids.

UPDATE DEUX:  And on this theme, Environment apocalypse predictions have failed for half a century.  I’m actually old enough to remember all of these.  I’m also old enough to remember that the proposed solution to diverting such apocalypses always somehow involves more tax, more gub’mint control, and less personal freedom (at least for us Little People).  As I’ve said many times, this whole biznay has nothing to do with science and everything to do with power.

UPDATE TROIS:  Yup.  Government That Wants You To Take Climate Change Seriously Invites Foreign High School Kid To Testify Before Congress.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel was telling me this evening about a classmate of hers in government who was having a hissy-fit today because some Congress-Critter referred to our “God-given rights”.

“They can’t say that!” the kid purportedly sputtered.  “That violates separation of Church and State! REEEEEEE!!!!

The Gel basically told her not to be a fool, but I gathered she did so more instinctually than rationally.

So I explained a little bit about the Founders’ understanding of individual rights being inherent to our nature as human beings, based on the Divine spark within us, and their further understanding that government is supposed to serve us, not the other way round.   I explained that the whole purpose of the Constitution is to set up a system of government that is functional in that purpose without undermining those rights.  I explained that once one gives up the idea that rights are both individual and inherent and concedes to a system wherein they are collective and doled out or taken away by the State, one has basically surrendered to tyranny, however dolled up in “The Public Good” rhetoric it might be.

Oh, and I also explained what the Establishment Clause actually means, that there is no “Separation” Clause, and why her friend is, in fact, a fool.

She got all this, and was also able to tie it in to her studies (she showed a real knowledge of the Amendment process, for example, and had intelligent things to say about Federalism), but I could see that I’m going to need to do some more ‘splainin’.  Being able to retail the history and mechanics of the system is all well and good.  But without understanding the underlying “why” of it, even a bright kid like the Gel is always in danger of skidding off into the pit.

On the other hand, being able to articulate a rational, historickally-informed position on these matters these days may be of little practical use to the Gel, since from what I can see the debate on this as well as on just about every other issue seems to be almost exclusively centered on “muh feels”.

Further, according to the New York Times and its “1619 And All That” Project, all of my points are completely illegitimate, the American system is morally null and void, and I am committing wrong think here.  So there is that.


** Spot the quote.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Rumors have started circulating that Gary Larson may be about to bring “The Far Side” cartoons out of retirement.

Ol’ Robbo was a great fan of TFS back in the day, but I have to confess that I have mixed feelings about this.  Way back when, Larson was an absurdist, plain and simple.  But that was before the culture turned into the wretched, polarized, hyper-politicized, Jacobin hate-fest that it is these days.  Can Larson return with a wit enjoyable to a vast and variegated audience?  (So far as Ol’ Robbo recalls, he rarely, if ever, got mixed up in politicks.)  Would he even want to?  Or will he swallow the virtue-signaling Kool-Aid?  (And if you think the latter can’t happen, I’ve got two words for you:  Berke. Breathed.)

We shall see, I guess.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was saddened to see the news of the death of “Cars” frontman Ric Ocasek  yesterday.

Not that I was a yuge fan of The Cars, but even Ol’ Robbo had their first album, as did practically every other teenager in the late 70’s/early 80’s, and it’s always a bit of a jolt to see a piece of one’s misspent yoot pass through the veil.

I also post about this because one of the strangest things I ever beheld – it might have been when I was dragged to Disney World in 2005 – was a video of Ocasek singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay” accompanied by cartoon birds.   I remember thinking at the time that the guy must really have needed the money.

Nonetheless, rest in peace.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent about half an hour walking around in circles at the grocery store on the way home from Mass today looking for the “Uncrustables” Youngest Gel requested for her school lunches this week.  I’m here to tell you that, as much as I like my store as a rule, they have no notion of where to put these things.  One might expect them to be in the frozen breakfast food section.  Or perhaps with the frozen desserts.  Or maybe even in the freezer directly across the aisle from the peanut butter and associated jellies.

But in between the frozen burritos and mini-pizzas?  Where the heck is the logic or reason to that?  Even after I finally broke down and asked somebody which aisle they were in (much to my personal pain), I still didn’t notice them until I went back to the staffer and he personally walked me over and pointed them out.


Oh, and the punchline?  I noticed an unopened box of the things in the freezer when I got home and put the grocs away.  D’OH!

(Ol’ Robbo is being crankypants about this because the delay means it was too late for me to have a snack when I got home as I usually do (I don’t eat beforehand), and now I have to tough it out until dinner.  And get in a work-out.)



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