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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that Congress is holding hearings on UFO’s today.

Your tax money at work. I suppose the bright side is that this silliness keeps them out of other mischief, at least for the moment.

For the record, Ol’ Robbo has no problem whatsoever with the notion that Life might exist on other worlds. But that it’s figured out a way to come here and is busy sneaking about in our atmosphere? Well, no.

UFO’s were a “thing” in my misspent yoot (along with “Nessie” and the New Ice Age) but gradually fizzled out as an item of interest over time. Perhaps they’re being resurrected now in aid of the whole One World global-government movement: I recall the Old Gentleman once arguing that the only thing that would every eliminate nationalism would be alien contact, wherein we would cease to say “I am an American” and instead say “I am an Earthling”. You can see how that would be appealing to the authoritarian collectivist mind.

So maybe this particular bit of mischief is not so benign after all.

UPDATE: I have just been informed by DHS that this post constitutes “mal-information”. Please to disregard.

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!

Ol’ Robbo wanted to raise a glass to Rich Strike, the 80-1 nobody who came flying out of nowhere to win the Kentucky Derby Saturday evening. Very well done, indeed.

I’m hardly of the horsey set. Indeed, apart from following the magnificent Secretariat back in the day, I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, nor can I remember the last time I actually watched a running of the Derby. But we were invited to a party for it this year, held by one of Mrs. R’s wimminz clubs, so I had no real choice in the matter.

Ol’ Robbo has come to the sad conclusion that it’s about time I look into some kind of hearing-aid. Probably the biggest reason I dislike parties so much is that I can’t understand a single thing anybody is saying to me. And simply nodding brightly but vacantly and saying “uh-huh!” repeatedly gets to be quite tedious after a while.

I had my first mint julip in something better than thirty years and thought it quite vile. Sugar has no place in an adult beverage.

The race itself, as I say, was genuinely exciting at the end, and the party crowd quite genuinely pleased. I believe there was a betting pool, but I don’t think anybody had Rich Strike to win. (The friends we went with plunged on a horse that wound up coming third. I refrained altogether because gambling has never had the slightest appeal to me. I state this simply as fact: there’s no virtue when there’s no temptation.)

That said, we actually won the big door prize, a $150 gift card to some restaurant I’ve not heard of. In my suave and diplomatic way, I remarked to a knot of Beltway Beautiful People, “Well, with the economy being what it is, I suppose this’ll probably about cover the appetizers!” For some mysterious reason, they didn’t seem to think that was s’damn funny.

All in all, though, a good time was had.

** Did you see what I did there?

“Pretentious? Moi?” – UPDATE – This is why Ol’ Robbo never talks to people anymore. At a meeting today I casually asked somebody if they’d watched the race and got a reply of “Agshully, I’m uncomfortable with the whole idea of horse racing because I’m concerned about their health and safety.”


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Mother’s Day!

Well, despite some vague threats this week, no screaming pro-abort wokesters at Mass today. (Screaming infants? Well, that’s something else. Like the poor, they will always be with us.)

A goodly number of heads on swivels, however. I’d bet a substantial bit of coin that I wasn’t the only one in the Box yesterday fessing up to a vivid fantasy of gut-punching anybody who tried to desecrate the proceedings in any way. For their own sake, they prolly were better off not trying it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As the title suggests, the rain continues to come down in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. Nonetheless, Ol’ Robbo is going to have to go out and tie up his peonies this morning. They’re thick with buds that are about ready to pop and, having outgrown their cages, have many stems flopped out on the ground now. Heigh ho.

What I really wanted to highlight today, however, is yet another remarkable bird-feeder sighting. Per yesterday’s post, the indigo bunting is back this morning, so perhaps he’s a keeper now. But as Ol’ Robbo contemplated the feeder over his first kawfee this morning, damme if I didn’t see yet another bird at it that I’ve never seen here before, a male rose-breasted grosbeak (sometimes called the “cut-throat” – I like that).

Ol’ Robbo is the most conservative, habitual, hobbit-like person you will ever meet in your life. I’ve been sitting in this same chair, looking out this same window at this same feeder for over two decades. After all these years, what are the odds of now spotting two brand-new species on two successive mornings? Inconceivable!

The map in my Peterson’s Field Guide doesn’t have the rose-breasted this far east, but instead staying in the mountains just to the west. Granted, my edition is forty years out of date now. Of course, you and I know what this can only mean: Glowbull Enwarmening. We’re all gonna die and it’s all our fault. (And all the birds are rightly going to blame us.)

Speaking of Peterson’s, it has this amusing entry concerning the cut-throat’s voice: “Song, rising and falling passages; resembles Robin’s song, but mellower, given with more feeling (as if a Robin had taken voice lessons).” Heh.

Whelp, the peonies await, so I’d better be about them.

UPDATE: Mission accomplished. (I again question why such heavy buds have such weak stems. Breeding gone amok, I suppose.) Fortunately, Ol’ Robbo caught a break in the weather wherein it was only drizzling. Unfortunately, some friends whom we haven’t seen in about ten years are dropping by this evening before we all go on to a Derby Party, so Mrs. R is at the high-doh about making Port Swiller Manor look its best and the heavy rain last night made more of a mess on the driveway than I had realized. Soaking wet holly leaves, pine straw and nugget mulch are a cast-iron beyotch to round up on asphalt.

On a related note, I’m afraid I have to report a failed attempt to patch a cracked flower pot with a piece of Flex-Tape. As much as I enjoy Phil Swift’s goofy Flex-Seal commercials, the stuff was useless. No adhesiveness whatsoever. Very sad.

Oh, and make that two male indigo buntings. Word must get around pretty fast.

UPDATE DEUX: I see it was just about a month ago that Ol’ Robbo predicted the peony-and-string thing. All is proceeding as I have foreseen. Also from that post, I can report happily that my separation and transplanting of a chunk of prairie cup-flower root ball appears to be a success, as the transplanted bit is definitely starting to grow. Also from that post, no hummingbird spottings yet, which is a bit disappointing, but the ant-moat has already drowned a goodish number of the little bastards, so I got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The start of a very soggy weekend here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.

Ol’ Robbo was sitting over his first cuppa covfefe this morning, idly watching the bird-feeder, when much to his surprise he realized that what he at first thought to be a bluebird hopping about in the wisteria was, in fact, a male indigo bunting. Even though my Peterson’s Field Guide says they summah all over the East, in my nearly twenty-two years living in the Manor, I have never seen one here before. Huzzay!

Yes, I know this is a very, very small matter amidst all the Sturm und Drang engulfing the country, but maybe that makes my simple delight in spotting a new guest to the feeder all that more important. Lighting single candles and all that…..

At any rate, I at least thought it to be blog-worthy. Share and enjoy.

Incidentally, the sighting brought to mind memories of my parents. When the Old Gentleman first retired and was at the height of his golf phase, they lived for about ten years on the Carolina coast, where their feeder was frequented by painted buntings, a cousin of the indigo. “P-B’s” we used to call them, and they were far and away the House Favorite. We’re way too far north for P-B’s here, but the parallel immediately struck my mind.

Oh, I looked up from the keyboard just now and he’s back. Hopefully, he’ll stick around.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, yes, it’s May the Fourth. Anybody who adds “be with you” to that over the decanter is highly likely to be pelted with walnut shells and propelled face-first into the Stilton.

Honestly, the joke was kinda, sorta, maybe-slightly-almost amusing the very first time. But to turn it into some kind of quasi-religious holiday? Well, Ol’ Robbo’s got a God already, thank you very much.

I was twelve when the first Star Wars installment hit the theatres, and I still recall the sense of absolute wonderment at that opening scene of the rebel blockade-runner being chased down by the imperial destroyer simply because there had never ever been anything remotely like it on screen before. Admittedly, it still gives me a bit of a chill all these years later. (But I also remember the first time I showed it to the Gels, who themselves had been exposed to much better special effects all their lives. Their reaction? “Meh.”)

I also remember Gene Shalit, the film critic, who believe it or not is still apparently alive, praising SW because the plot was simple and at times light-hearted, in contrast to most of the rest of science-fiction on offer at the time. (Think 2001-A Space Odyssey.)

But then what happened? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me summarize: The franchise went Full Wagner. (Never go Full Wagner.)*** And here we are, forty-five years later, with a bloated, politicized, faux-religious yet immensely empty, steaming heap of artistic garbage, with a brainwashed, wallet-hoovered, yo-yo fan-base who think that May the Fourth is a Thing.

As you may gather, this irritates Ol’ Robbo not a little.

***If you don’t spot the first riff, shame on you. If you do spot the second, well done indeed!

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!

For those friends of the decanter wondering at my absence, it was a road-trip weekend for Ol’ Robbo, as Mrs. R and I tooled out to visit Youngest at school in far southwestern Ahia, ostensibly to enjoy the Gel’s sailing club Parents Weekend festivities, but also (at least for me) to see her in context, as it were. The last time I was on campus was when we dropped her off as a fresher at the height of the covidiocy, at which time everything was either locked down completely or else very limited, and the only people one saw went scurrying furtively from one safe zone to the next, avoiding all contact. Ol’ Robbo wanted to get a sense of things in full swing.

And I may say that I was not disappointed. As for the sailing club, it was nice to meet a few of the Gel’s inner ring of friends (together with some parents) as we lolled about down at the lake Saturday afternoon. The kids were good enough to haul out the club’s Daysailer, and as there was a steady 11-knot breeze blowing, one of their members very patiently and good-humoredly took batches of us old fogies out for short rides. Ol’ Robbo barely even qualifies as an armchair sailor through his nautical readings, but I was nonetheless impressed with the way the kid handled tiller and sheet as he tacked three or four times for our pleasure and then brought the boat kissing back up to the dock. And I even managed to avoid getting whacked in the face by the boom as we came about without having to be warned.

As for the bigger picture, what a difference a pandemic makes! Work-spaces actually used, late Friday afternoon classes outside, a Saturday morning farmer’s market, pick-up games of ultimate frisbee and flag-football, and parties, parties, parties. (The school has a reputation, I believe.) It was also evidently some sort of weekend for the frats and sororities, as I saw numerous shoals of young ladies in “formal” dresses, many of which I’m pretty sure their fathers had neither seen nor approved. And then there was Ol’ Robbo: Friday evening I stepped into the local packy to grab some beer for the meet-and-greet at Sailing House and suddenly realized I was a good thirty-five years older than anybody else in the place. Yikes.

And yes, by the bye, we drove. Nine hours each way just for a two-night stay is right at Ol’ Robbo’s outer limit of tolerance, but we felt it was in a good cause. The road nerds among you will be interested to know that headed out I tried taking I-68 through western Murrland this time. Quite the scenic route and not much traffic except ’round Cumberland and Morgantown. I think it’s also a bit faster. Nonetheless, it was stormy in the Alleghenies yesterday, so I decided to stick to I-70 coming back on the reasoning that it would be better to get slammed (which we did) on a road I know well (at least between Somerset and Breezewood) rayther than one I don’t much know at all. I think I was right about this, but I’d forgotten what a garbage highway 70 is between where it splits from the turnpike and Washington, PA. My hands are still aching from clutching the wheel so hard. Pretty sure I won’t go that way again.

Anyhoo, a good time was had by all.

**All facts verified by the Disinformation Governance Board

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.


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May 2022