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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Youngest Gel has been at camp these past two weeks.  Ol’ Robbo went to fetch her today.  The camp, for those of you who may have forgotten, is in southwest Pennsylvania maybe an hour from Pittsburgh.

It occurred to me on the way home that if the Gel does wind up going to school in Ohio as is currently being noodled, she’d be driving the same route we take back and forth between camp and Port Swiller Manor nestled away in Northern Virginny.  The idea of the Gel dealing with the Alleghanies, the mysteries of the Breezewood, PA interchange, South Mountain, I-270, and miles and miles of lunatic Murrland drivers does not give me much of a warm feeling inside.  (Nor does the fact that the first time she’d likely try it solo** would be coming home for Christmas.  I’ve been in the Laurel Highlands on I-70 in a snowstorm and it ain’t fun.)


* Well, yes it does give me a warm feeling, but that’s just my ulcer acting up.

** Assuming the Gel couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to bum a ride, would it be reasonable for a parental unit to fly out and then ride home with her, at least the first time?  Or is that both extravagance and helicoptering?  These are questions which will need to be debated, and probably sooner rather than later.

UPDATE:  Oh, I forgot to mention.  The obvious answer is that the Gel doesn’t really need a car at school, but that’s not part of the conditions under which Ol’ Robbo is playing out this no-win scenario.  (You don’t know Mrs. R.)  Were I able to somehow get this option incorporated into the menu, it would be the equivalent of Kirk reprogramming the computer so that he could rescue the Kobayashi Maru.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Following up on the chin-wag we were having in the comments to the coffee post regarding childhood luncheon meat memories, this article seems to be at once timely and nightmarish:  Brace Yourselves: Pumpkin Spice Spam Is Coming This Fall.

“True to the brand’s roots, SPAM® Pumpkin Spice combines deliciousness with creativity, allowing the latest variety to be incorporated into a number of dishes, from on-trend brunch recipes to an easy, pick-me-up snack,” Hormel’s publicist said to NBC in a statement.

Of course, the annual autumnal scourge that is Pumpkin-Spice Mania is a well-worn meme around the Innertoobs.  But this seems to take it to a whole new level of, well, depravity.  We tolerated things as long as we could, but if this doesn’t prove that it’s time for Common Sense Pumpkin-Spice Control now, then I can’t possibly think what would.

Do nothing and they’ll be putting out Pumpkin-Spice Chili next year.  Bank on it.


The only positive side I can see regarding this announcement is that it just might get those bloody Vikings to finally shut up.  Because even Nordic Barbarians draw the line at some point:




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo saw this article early this morning:  Burlington (VT) City Council Opposes F-35 Fighter Jets At Airport.

WCAX-TV reports the council voted unanimously on Monday in favor of a resolution that opposes the basing of any nuclear-capable aircraft at the airport in South Burlington. The resolution also requests that Mayor Miro Weinberger, Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont’s congressional delegation tell the Department of Defense that the F-35s are not welcomed in Burlington.

The article actually filled me with a weird sense of nostalgia.  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember the “Nuclear-Free Zone” fad back during the Reagan years, with numerous city councils and other bodies feeling that with a mere paper resolution they could somehow opt out in the event the Cold War went hot. (Virtue-signaling is, of course, really nothing new.)

Indeed, we even had a movement at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  A wave of hysteria swept over the campus, the fear being that if Ivan had a go at the sub pens over to New London, one of their missiles might come down on us inadvertently, or else we might get caught in the fallout even if they hit their target.  Hence, somebody organized a petition to have Dear Ol’ Wes declared a No-Nukes Zone.  (There was a concurrent petition to demand that the campus clinic stock cyanide capsules, because if the Russkies dropped the Big One, what was the point of living any longer?  They got that idea from the kids over at Brown.)

Because everybody knew that a Strongly-Worded Resolution would shield the place from attack.  Because reasons.  Because that sumbitch Ronnie “Ray-Gun”. Because shut up.

I mocked the whole silly biznay with gusto.  (You could still do so back then without fear of getting hauled up before a campus “hate-crime” tribunal.)  As a matter of fact, as staff cartoonist for the lone conservative paper on campus, I created a panel the upshot of which was that a brown paper bag placed over one’s head made every bit as effective a Personal Nuclear-Free Zone as did any campus-wide resolution in fending off the realities of any actual exchange with Ivan.

I was rather proud of the thing, although as you might imagine it didn’t win me many friends.

Don’t remember whether anything came of the anti-nuke resolution.  I do recall that the administration, very sensibly, declined to stock suicide pills.

Greetings, fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been out of town the past couple Sundays, so hadn’t been to his home parish for a few weeks.  Thus, I was greatly surprised yesterday when I pulled up to discover the vestibule all boarded over and fenced off.

It seems the Powers have decided to modify and expand the vestibule.  On the one hand, this is very welcome, as the current one can be a real log-jam.  On the other, it also signals that Ol’ Robbo’s fond dream that they knock the whole building down and start over is even less likely to happen now than before.

Robbo’s church is truly ugly, I’m afraid, and there’s no getting around it.  For one thing, it’s in the style of what might be called ’50’s Modernsky, – all inward-leaning columns, exposed brick and tacky stained glass, and a weird wrought-iron steeple- the kind of thing that James Lileks likes to ape in his Bad Nostalgia books.  For another, it’s in the round, a thing I loathe.  There’s a cupola set dead-center in the ceiling (which rises from all around the walls).  It used to have a sort of spider-web fretwork at its base.  They got rid of that a few years back, opening up the inside.  This was painted deep blue with stars and a dove at the very top.  It’s nice to gaze at, but doesn’t save the rest of the building.

A third thing which irks me is that the altar is oriented not east but south-southeast.  So Mass is celebrated Ad Orientem sort of.  I don’t know why this is.  The old church, which is now the parish office, is both solidly four-square and properly aligned.

You’ll tell me that what goes on inside is far more important than the physical setting and of course you’ll be correct.  And in fact, I’ve got so used to things that I don’t pay any attention to my surroundings while worshipping.  I bring up my old grumble here simply because the new development reminds me of it and because it is (after all) useful blog material.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A delightful evening here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, especially considering that we’re sitting dead red in the center of August.  Loafing out on the porch, Ol’ Robbo thought he might provide you a few dainties on which to nibble as the sun goes down:

♦  Today was Ol’ Robbo’s second telework day of the new regime.  I think I can get used to this.  And yes, I’m finding it to actually be quite productive.  The question no doubt flies around the decanter, “So, was he wearing pants?”  Well, if you ask the Magic 8-Ball, you’ll only get the answer, “Reply hazy, ask again later“.

♦  I’m sorry, but as dearly as I love both Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, “Bringing Up Baby” is just not a funny movie.  “Holiday” is funny.  “Adam’s Rib” is funny.  But “Baby”? Just too manic and cutesy.  I don’t care what anybody else says. (I tried to re-watch it the other evening and couldn’t stick more than about half an hour.)

♦  Ol’ Robbo was excited to try out his brand new pair of running shoes this afternoon.  My previous pair was so old that I can’t even remember when I bought them.  They were so worn out that the heels were literally crumbling, causing my ankles and knees to corkscrew when I walked on the treadmill in them.  Not good.  I try not to fling my gold about more than necessary on personal items, but this purchase seemed to me quite justified.

♦  The consolation of having to go back to the Metro to commute to my new office is that I get a little extra reading time in.  Obviously, in such conditions one can’t get into anything too heavy or profound, so I’ve circled back round to my shelf of adventure stories.  At the moment, I’m revisiting H. Rider Haggard, specifically King Solomon’s Mines.  (I plan to read the rest of the Quartermain stories in turn.)  I half-hope that some SJW witnit will spot it and give me grief for my un-wokeness, but I’m not terribly optimistic.  These people are just too pathetically ignorant.

♦  Some fascinating conversations with Eldest Gel this week.  The other day we discussed God’s omniscience and existence outside of Time as it relates to Fatalism and Free Will. “Look,” she said in her direct way, “God knows what you’re going to do, of course.  But you’re still the one who makes up your mind to do it! Otherwise, you’re just a slave or a robot!”  Today, it was Schrödinger’s Cat.  I tried to suggest this was just a thought experiment, but she was having none of it. “The damned cat is either alive or it isn’t!” she said.  “It doesn’t matter at all whether you know it or not!  It’s like that tree in the forest – of course it makes a noise when it falls!”  It seems to me that a Gel who can avoid both the Scylla of Calvinism (and Islam) and the Charybdis of hipster quantum-theory navel gazing ought to go far.  Heh.

And yet this same Gel can’t seem to put her blasted dishes in the gorram dishwasher, no matter how much I rant.  Go figure.

Whelp, that’s about enough “filling up the corners” for now.***  Think I’ll toddle downstairs and see how my Beloved Nationals are doing.

See you in the Gardening Thread tomorrow.


***Spot the quote.  This ought to be an easy one.

UPDATE:  Ugh. Blown save.  Ol’ Robbo hates blown saves.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s mother passed away two years ago this week.  (August 5, to be precise.)

In what was actually a completely random coincidence, Ol’ Robbo found himself stopping by his local Wells Fargo branch today to finally close out the estate checking account he had set up as executor a couple months after her death.

The sensation was….strange.

I don’t think I’ve written a whole lot about it here (correct me if I’m wrong), but the Mothe’s demise hit me very, very hard, she being just about my closest friend in this world and my never  getting the chance to properly say goodbye, a long story with which I will not bore you.  As far as I can recollect now, after an initial period of shocked numbness, I spent the better part of a year plunged in grief and mourning and functioning, at best, robotically.  After that, while starting to get better generally, I still suffered occasional attacks of the blue devils, usually around holidays or significant anniversaries.

The real “coming out from under” moment occurred earlier this year, when Uncle had temporarily thrown all of us bureaucratic wage-slaves on the beach.  Having time on my hands, I went round to Father M’s parish.  Father M is good people.  He used to be a regular contributor at Mrs. P’s now-defunct Patem Peperium blog and a fairly frequent commenter here, although he now spends most of his social media time over on the FacePlant.  Anyhoo, he sat me down, shoved a cuppa kawfee in my hands, and invited me to open up.  Which I did.  I probably gassed and vented at him for a couple hours, while he very patiently sat by, dropping the occasional word of consolation and encouragement.   I left that day feeling infinitely better.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t had bouts of grief since then.  But they’ve been shorter and shallower.  And I stopped being a mere robot.

Anyhoo, recently Ol’ Robbo has been feeling pretty durn good about things in general.  The office move has proved surprisingly refreshing, I’ve got back into regular exercise with gusto, and there are no major fires to put out on the home front at the moment.  (**Touches wood**)  Nonetheless, as I sallied forth today to do my bit of banking, I could feel again the tug of those same blue devils.  Pretty weak it was, but a tug nonetheless.

I know for a fact that the Mothe’s passing has forever changed me and that these occasional tugs will never go away completely.  But it’s got to the point where they surprise me when they happen.  And also where they have no real power over me.  Well, at least more than temporarily.  (There’s a passage in a book I’ve read about this phenomenon that I just can’t recall, unfortunately.  It’s going to drive me nuts now.)

Incidentally, being the good steward that I am, having cleared all the estate debts and distributed the bulk of the residue equitably among brother, sister, and Self, the princely sum that remained in the account today was a whopping $73 and change.  I pocketed that by way of an administrative fee (totally appropriate) and used it to buy a new pair of day-to-day shoes, my old ones having become noticeably ratty.  Call them the Mothe Memorial Top-Siders.

I think she’d probably like that.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Ol’ Robbo inaugurates his new, o-fficial, twice-weekly teleworking scheme today.

I’ve avoided signing up for it for many years, primarily because getting a remote connection into our system used to be a colossal and unreliable pain, and also because the original house rules were both draconian and nit-picky.  But both of those things have changed in recent years, and now having moved to a new building with a longer commute, I finally persuaded myself to get on board.

So here we are.  Ol’ Robbo sees that his kawfee is about ready and his “check-in” time is coming up in just a bit, so I’ll just toddle off down to my study to get ready for the workday.

I may, or may not, be wearing pants.

UPDATE:  A successful experiment, I think.  The system access worked fine, nobody bugged me but Decanter Dog and the kittehs, it was pleasant enough out to eat lunch and then spend the afternoon working on the porch, and I got a lot done.  And afterward, instead of the long slog home, I got in a good workout.

The only pro-tip I’d pass along is that if, like me, you aren’t used to using your work laptop, you should make sure to check it out for a built-in camera and attend to same with a square of duct tape before you start, er, indulging whims best kept private.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Mrs. Robbo and I spent the better part of the day today running Youngest back out to summah camp for another two weeks, this time to serve a term on the kitchen crew.  I must admit that although I didn’t much care for having to leave so early this morning, the fog across the Potomac River Valley was very, very pretty.

The Gel and her fellows will spend the term waiting and bussing the tables full of ravenous campers.  Each of them is assigned a single cabin’s table, so sees the same dozen campers at each meal.  It appears that a certain bond grows up between them – certainly when the crew are named in recognition at the end-of-term ceremony, the responses from some of the cabins can be quite loud – which seems to be based at least in part on the server’s enthusiasm and theatricality.

To get into the spirit of the thing, Youngest went to some novelty shop this week and bought herself a Krusty Krab baseball hat, which she plans to wear on duty.  (That’s pretty typical of her brand of humor.)  I’ve an idea her table is going to be in for quite a ride.

Middle Gel did a turn on the kitchen crew a couple years ago.  She says it’s one of the hardest things she’s had to do but also one of the more rewarding.  (It doesn’t hurt that they get 80 hours of community service credit for it with their high school, too.)

We’ll see what Youngest thinks when we go to fetch her.

Oh, and speaking of running the Gel out to camp, just yesterday we received a polite notice from the Maryland State Police (complete with photograph) to the effect that they had clocked us going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-270 the day we brought her back from her first term, and would we kindly cough up forty bucks.

I say “we”.  The truth of the matter is that I drove the Gel back alone myself that day, as Mrs. R was four states away visiting her parents.  However, since the title and registration for our Honda Juggernaut (which I was driving) are in her name, well, so far as the long arm of the law is concerned, she was the culprit.   Mrs. R is, as you might imagine, none to pleased with me about that.  (For the record, there is no loss of points or insurance fallout involved with this ticket.  They just want the money.  Had a more sinister penalty been involved, of course I would have taken the rap.  Eldest Gel, who is the closest thing there is to a Cromwellian Libertarian, demanded to know why I’m not facing jail time.)

I recognized the spot as soon as I came across it today – a work zone with a prominent warning of photo-enforcement.  They got me last time because I was out in the open, but this time I was able to wedge myself in beside a couple of semis and skootch through under cover.  (I didn’t slow down.  Only a suicidal lunatic would try to stick to 55 on I-270 when the traffic flow is going faster.  It’s one of the most beastly stretches of highway in the country, filled as it is with bat-shite crazy Murrland drivers.)

UPDATE:  I see where Professor Mondo, bringing his daughter up to UMD for grad school, has now seen first-hand why Ol’ Robbo applies the nearly-Homeric tag of “bat-shite crazy” to Murrland drivers every time he has occasion to comment upon them.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a little this and that?

♦  Ol’ Robbo is quite disappointed he wasn’t invited to Google Camp to discuss the impending Doom of the World with the High and the Mighty.  Not.  As the Puppy-Blender likes to say, I don’t want to hear another goddam thing about my carbon footprint.  When the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s a crisis, then maybe I’ll listen.  Until then, they can STFD and STFU.  (You will, I hope, pardon my French.)

♦  And while we’re on politicks (which I seldom visit here), how much of an idiot do you have to be to allow yourself to be maneuvered into defending Al Sharpton, or denying that Baltimore is a hell on earth?  I mean, come on!

♦  Well, it’s getting on toward that time of the year again.  Middle Gel (now a sophomore) went back to campus yesterday (she’s there early because she got a job as a front desk monitor in one of the dorms this year), and Eldest (a senior) toodles off in (I think) two weeks. Meanwhile, Youngest spent a goodish time over the summah checking out various schools, and has decided she really, really wants to go to Miami of Ohio.  Fingers crossed.  At least it’s a terrific motivator for her to go flat out this semester.

♦  As I mentioned previously, my place of employment moved to a brand-new building this past week. (More on that as I settle in.)  I used to have samples of the Gels’ collective art work taped up all over my office walls at the old place, but that was from ten to fifteen years ago.  Somehow, it seemed appropriate not to repost it in my new digs, but simply to put it all in a file in my drawer.  I suppose it’ll be wedding and grandchildren pics soon.  (And they’d better be in that order, dammit!)

♦  I grow increasingly dissatisfied with Nexflix and its evident decision not to put any real effort into maintaining in its DVD library anything more than about five years old.

♦  I also mentioned the other day that I’m currently reading some John Buchan.  Several friends of the decanter have been urging me to do this for years, and I duly raise my glass to them.  Specifically, I’m working on the Leithen Stories, which might best be described as Old-School Tory adventures.  Crisply and cleanly written, and exciting on a small scale.  (I particularly like “John Macnab” which is all about poaching in the Scottish Highlands.)

Whelp, that’s about it.  Port Swiller Manor has been teased the past couple days by some very strong thunderstorms that just didn’t quite make it all the way here.  I’m hoping we finally get a piece of that action this afternoon.  (Happily, it’s my day off, so I won’t get stuck trying to commute in it.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo notes that today is this blog’s 11th anniversary.

Maybe the thing to celebrate is not that it thrives but that it survives at all.   Twenty “hits” and one or two comments is a good day for me.  I can’t even remember the last time somebody actually “linked” me.   The retirees on my blogroll far outnumber those who are still active.

But you know? So what.  As long as I still enjoy hauling out the ol’ laptop and posting whatever runs across my braims, I’ll keep doing it.  Even if it means I’m essentially just typing to myself.

In the meantime, I do feel tremendous gratitude for those of you who stick around here and take those posts in.  And if there aren’t that many here?  It just means there’s more port and Stilton for the rest of us!

So charge your glasses, pray, gunn’ls under, and here’s to 11 Years with three times three and no heel taps!

MULTI-SUBJECT UPDATE:  Thankee, friends!  Thankee muchly!   I say that I do this simply because I enjoy writing, but any blogger who claims that is, in fact, a liar.  The knowledge of making any kind of difference (hopefully for the better) in somebody else’s life and experience with my blatherings far outweighs mere pixilated wanking.

Now for a couple of things.

First, a glass of wine with Melissa Kean who writes over at Rice History Corner and may be a first time commenter here. (At the very least, an infrequent one.)  Welcome!  For what it’s worth as a small historickal nugget, back in the days of my misspent high school yoot in San Antonio in the early 80’s,  Rice was considered the in-state choice for brainiacs and eggheads, a kind of “Texas Ivy”.  I dunno if that perception still holds true.  (For myself, in a class of around 660, I believe I was one of fewer than ten who went out of state.  But then, I was both a Yankee carpet-bagger and a weirdo.)  Oh, and I recall that their marching band was famous for its unconventional performances.  Is that still the case?

Several of you mention the aging factor.  I’d thought about that as well, but the truth is I still think of this place as fairly newish because I first started blogging with the formation of the Llamas back in November, 2003.  That’s ancient history!  Ol’ Robbo still yearns for a bloggy renaissance.  Those first heady days back in the earlies were such fun and so free-spirited.  Of course, the times are considerably different now, but I had hopes that the poisonous and censorious atmospheres of platforms like Twatter and FacePlant would convince folk to come back to the Blogsphere.  (WordPress, bless ’em, have never given me any flak whatsoever for the stuff I put up here.)

Browndog mentions a discussion in the morning thread over at the Ewok’s Place today about John Boorman’s original plan to do a Lord of the Rings movie back in the late 70’s which got kyboshed because of costs.  He wound up doing “Excalibur” instead.  Yes, I did see that, although I didn’t open up the linkies because work.  It’s not unreasonable to believe that had Boorman done LOTR, Peter Jackson maybe would not have.  And long-time friends of the decanter know all about what Ol’ Robbo thinks of Peter Jackson.  On the other hand, if Boorman had carried on through with the project and “Excalibur” hadn’t been made, would we have still got a young, nekked Helen Mirren?  I think not. Just sayin’.

Finally, did somebody say….Mélissa Theauriau??!!

Yes, indeedilly-didilly! ***


*** Another Llama blast-from-the-past.  And yes, I need to get to Confession anyway……






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