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Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy St. Pat’s Day!

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t think very much of this “holiday”, given that in its modern, secular form, it seems to be not much more than an excuse for the young people to get thoroughly blotto. It also emphasizes the trivialization of many ancient and important cultural and religious symbols in much the same way that the modern Halloween does.

For all that, I completely forgot what day it was this morning and grabbed a green sweater quite at random.

I felt like an idiot all day.

So now for a bit of Irish random:

– Ol’ Robbo cannot abide either corned beef OR cabbage.

– Despite the title of this post, I know absolutely nothing about Irish whiskey. To the extent I touch the hard stuff anymore, I remain a single-malt scotch man (Laphroig by preference).

– On the other hand, I DO know a thing or two about stout. Mostly, that it should not be quaffed when the outside temperature is anything over about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

– “The Commitments”, the story of one man’s attempt to bring soul music to Dublin, remains one of my very favorite movies. Fookin’ deadly!

– Leprechauns. They’re not cute and cuddly, they won’t enhance your breakfast cereal experience, and God help you if you ever do somehow stumble across their horde of treasure. One of my favorite short stories encapsulating the actual terror associated with “Thim People” is “The Happy Despatch” by Patrick O’Brian. (Yes, THAT Patrick O’Brian. You’ll find it in his book “The Rendezvous and Other Stories”.)

– One of my favorite collections of short stories that really digs down into the “true” Irish character is, of course, “The Irish R.M.” by E. O. Somerville and Martin Ross, a pair of Anglo-Irish ladies writing in the early 20th Century. They are surprisingly sympathetic to the natives.

– One Irishman surprisingly NOT sympathetic to his countrymen was the playwrite John Synge. Writing about the same people at about the same time as Somerville and Ross, he was brutal in his depictions of their backwardness. Ol’ Robbo was in a college production of his “Playboy of the Western World” and actually took lessons to get the brogue right. As my eldest gel is discovering, ANY play is fun to do, but this one was pretty brutal in its depictions. (Small wonder the audience rioted when it debuted in Dublin in 1901, or whenever it was.)

– Whelp, that’s about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ll go listen to a Chieftans CD. Just because.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, if you paid attention to the nooz at all today, you are no doubt aware first, that the Administration released its proposed budget, which boosts defense spending while slashing domestic programs, and second, that the collective Left are having conniptions about it.

Curiously enough, Ol’ Robbo’s immediate reaction to both of these was basically one of …… comfort and nostalgia, and even, shall I say it, delight.

Why? Because this is very familiar ground. Ol’ Robbo remembers exactly the same bun-fights back in the Reagan years. Of course, the stakes (*Cough! Twenty-plus trillion in debt! Cough!*) are considerably higher now, but as Sam Clemens famously did not actually say, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Perhaps my favorite beef is over the proposal to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (including PBS and NPR). So far as I can tell, the argument seems to be, “I love Art so much that I DEMAND other people keep paying for it for me, man!!”

Yeah, no. You want it?  You buy it.  (And I say this as a monthly contributor to my local classickal radio station.)

Of course, this is all theatre (talk about Art!) at the moment. We’ll see what emerges once the actual sausage-making process had taken place. My cynical guess is status quo ante, but it’s already been such a crazy year of firsts that who knows?

 

*An anomalous title. I understand that “Sesame Street” went to HBO some time ago. I don’t recall any major outcry over disadvantaged yoots being forced to watch it on a premium cable channel. (By the bye, given HBO’s track record, I can only shudder when I think of the possible story lines they might have developed for the show.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, even as Ol’ Robbo types this post, Storm Stella (“STEEEELLAAAA!!!!”) is bearing down on Port Swiller Manor.

It’s the first opportunity folks around here have had to indulge in our traditional snowflake panic all year, and even yesterday when Robbo was at the store, the T-paper was already flying off the shelves.

Further, there’s a weird sense of entitlement brewing amongst the kids, who haven’t had a snow day yet this year. I’ve an idea the schools will be shut tomorrow no matter what the actual conditions, lest rioting breaks out.

As a matter of fact, we’re at the southern end of the storm track, and while points farther north are going to get hammered for certain, I reckon we’ll only get just enough to make my slog downtown in the morning very unpleasant.

Of course, I could be mistaken. Fortunately, our emergency contingent plan of burning the furniture and eating the cats is always ready to go at need.

We shall see.

UPDATE:  Whelp,  Ol’ Robbo was right:  the storm mostly turned out to be a bust.

But don’t let Drudge’s headline about a “dusting” in our area fool you.  Dustings are pretty and flakey and melt as soon as the sun appears.  I just got finished spending about three hours dealing with the two inches of very wet snow on top of ice that covered the Port Swiller driveway.  Broke my shovel on it, too.  Doesn’t sound like all that much, I know, but I’m aching quite all over now.

Stomping my own new post below, but I just wanted to say good for Betsy DeVos for advising college conservatives this week, “Don’t shut up.”

I sent the article to Eldest Gel (sorry, don’t know how to link on my iPhone) and she really appreciated it. Currently, she’s locked in battle with her Econ prof: the prof sets up a political/economic question based in certain given (and slanted) assumptions, and the Gel immediately starts challenging said assumptions. Rancor ensues.

The other thing that irritates the hell out of her is the expectation that she conform to certain beliefs and attitudes based on her sex. Apparently she was arguing about this with someone the other day and said, “I’m a woman. So, what? I think for myself, thank you.” Much fainting ensued.

That’s my Gel!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has mentioned here before the fact that he watches very little teevee apart from Nats baseball and old movies. One exception to this is NatGeo’s “Air Disasters”, which graphically recreates various plane crashes and the subsequent investigations into their causes. I suppose I watch it out of a kind of morbid fascination based on my own irrational fear of flying. Go figure.

Anyhoo, I bring this up because I happened to be watching the show last evening when an ad came on for an upcoming NatGeo program about our newly ex-President. Apparently – at least according to the ad- he was just the bestest, dreamiest, most wonderfulest prez’nit evah, you guys!

Ol’ Robbo would advise the folks at NatGeo to get a room.

Alas, I won’t be able to watch the show myself: I’ve got some navel lint that really needs to be dealt with that evening.

Greeting, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself watching a program on the Military History channel this evening about “odd” and “bizarre” weapons ideas over the years.

The overall tone of the show is pretty snarky, as in some cases is fairly justified. But one of the topics covered was the Japanese balloon bombs of WWII that were launched against the American west coast. The show laughs them off as being random and ineffective, but ignores an incident that I recall from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest where a parson and his family stumbled across one while on a picnic. If I remember correctly without looking it up, the thing went off and killed most of them.

Ha, jolly, ha.

On the other hand, the show feels compelled to issue content warnings before sections dealing with weapons systems involving pigeons and bats.

What a stupid, stupid time in which we live.

Yeah, think I’ll go read a book.

BTW, I’m reminded again of a story that Churchill became interested in a project to train seagulls to poop on German U-boat periscope lenses. Dunno if that was true, but if not, it should have been.

Update:  Looked it up but can’t link here because I’m on my phone:  the incident occurred May 5, 1945, in Oregon.  Church outing. Five kids and the pastor’s pregnant  wife were killed. Not a good story line for a flippant show about “weird” killing machines.  Feh.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I can’t link it here because I’m on my phone, but I see via Drudge that the Grammies are tonight and that some of the “stars” plan to “get political”.

Bless their hearts.

Friends of the decanter will already know that Ol’ Robbo has never had any truck with celebrity worship, nor given a wet slap about what some entertainer may think about things. But it seems to me that more and more people are beginning to come round to this same way of thinking, especially now that the totalitarian left has abandoned any pretense that it isn’t fighting a flat-out civil war against Middle America.

I could be mistaken, of course, but if my income depended on ticket or CD sales, I’d probably want to think carefully about who I’m alienating with my virtue-signaling.

BTW, watched “Hail, Caesar” last evening. Meh. The Coen Brothers have definitely done some good films, but they’ve served up some stinkers, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is enjoying a much-appreciated Friday off today. My sole achievement so far has been to refill the bird feeders off the porch, and even then I didn’t bother to change out of my robe and jammers. Hey, I like to watch the birds with my morning coffee. Got a problem with that?

On the whole home computer thing, I’m beginning to lean towards a Laptop of Robbo’s Own.  (Everyone else at home has one, so why not?) Any suggestions? I really only would use it for on-line shopping/research and blogging, so I don’t need anything fancy-shmancy (or pricey). Mrs. R wants me to take the desktop into the Apple store to see if they can fix it, but it strikes me that would probably wind up costing just as much.

Eldest Gel is home for the weekend.  She asked me last evening what I thought of Bitch McConnell telling Liawatha to sit down and shut up in the Senate.  I replied that he also should have told her to go make him a sammich.  The Gel laughed heartily.  That’s my gel!

Well, I suppose I should shift myself soon, as my non-paying job never ends: tax docs to prepare, lightbulbs to replace, and a run to the Bost Office today. But first? Maybe one more cup o’ Joe.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is back from his week of biznay travel safe and sound.  The trip itself was extremely productive and, apart from the fact that we had to return to the gate in Denver yesterday morning because a passenger suddenly felt sick as we were taxiing out to the runway and were therefore very late, it went remarkably smoothly.  (The fellah in the seat next to me was quite irate.  I pointed out to him that it was just as well the sickie piped up when he did and that it was a hell of a lot better than having to make an emergency landing in someplace like Kansas City.)

As I say, a good week.

Well, except for the rental car, that is.

I may have mentioned after my last trip on this same biznay early in December that these excursions involve driving hundreds of miles in the shadow of the Front Range of the Rockies.  After having been stuck with a small econo-car rental the last time we went out and getting caught in several snow storms, my colleagues and I demanded that the bean-counters let us have an SUV this time.  (Our foresight proved justified, because we got caught in snow storms yet again.)  Surprisingly, they agreed.  To this end, when we got into Denver Sunday evening, we found ourselves presented with a brand new, tricked out, 2017 Ford Explorer.

Ol’ Robbo was pretty pleased with the thing at first, but our relationship almost immediately soured when I realized at oh-dark-thirty Monday morning that I hadn’t the faintest idea how to actually start it up.  (The rental-wallah had started it himself Sunday evening when he was showing me all the whistles and bells and I hadn’t been paying attention because I was so tired.)

To me, starting a car is supposed to be a straight-forward process:

1.)  Insert key.

2.)  Turn key.

3.)  Profit!

Even with past rentals that featured the option of keyless ignition, I have always ignored such option and stuck with this tried-and-true system.  And so I wished to this time around.  However, after spending about ten minutes that morning trying to figure out where the hell to stick the key in, I suddenly made an alarming discovery:

Keyless ignition in THIS car was mandatory.

It was also ridiculously complicated.  First, you had to hit the “lock” button on the remote.  Then, you had to hit the “start engine” button on the remote twice.  Then you had to stomp on the brake and hit the other “start engine” button on the dashboard.  All that just to turn the stupid thing on?  How is this supposed to be an asset to me?

And of course, because it was usually dark when we were heading out in the morning or coming back in the evening and I was completely unfamiliar with the button layout on the remote, even after I figured out the magic sequence all kinds of hilarity resulted.  Sometimes I wound up opening the back hatch.  Sometimes I wound up setting off the alarm.   One morning when I had the remote in my pocket as I was leaning over the hood to scrape off the ice and snow, I managed to do both at the same time.

And of course, since the key wasn’t conveniently stuck in the side of the steering column, I was forever scrambling to find the damned thing amidst all the flotsam and jetsam of the center console whenever we got out of the car.

Yeesh!

This Explorer also featured side mirrors that automatically folded back against the body of the car like a bird’s wings when you shut off the engine.  Unfortunately, while trying to adjust the mirrors, through some combination of buttons on the door I managed to disconnect them from the servo-motor.  The result was that the things blew back against the side of the car all by themselves when I got anywhere above 40 mph or so, a situation that certainly didn’t make highway cruising any easier.  It took about two days for me to figure out how to reconnect them.

Finally, I have never driven a car that was so much of a confounded busy-bodying scold before.

For one thing, it was forever beeping at me in alarum about something or other and displaying all kinds of mysterious visual warnings on the dashboard.  We never figured out what these visuals were supposed to mean (although I suspect at least one of them had something to do with snow covering a headlight) because we couldn’t find the owner’s manual to look up the code.  (We learned later that the manual wasn’t in the glove compartment because it was stored with the spare tire instead.  It was explained that without the manual, changing tires on the thing would be virtually impossible, so the rental people thought it better to do so.)

Also, said Explorer had a hyper-active proximity warning:  One evening, as I was trying to parallel park in a fairly tight spot, the thing started clicking at me.  The nearer I got to the car behind me, the faster the clicking.  I can tell you that this does absolutely nothing for one’s concentration, especially when one is trying to get out of the way of the traffic coming up behind.  (Indeed, I found myself feeling like the guy attempting to disarm the nuke with ten seconds to go until detonation and feverishly trying to decide whether to cut the red wire or the blue.)

Ol’ Robbo can’t stand being nagged.  It’s bad enough when the nagger is one of the Port Swiller wimminz, but a stupid machine?  Even worse.  Over the course of the week, I found myself talking back to the thing in ever-increasing irritation.  “Shut up!” “Mind your own bloody biznay!”  “Who the hell asked you?”  “Which I’m doing it, ain’t I!”

My two companions (both wimminz themselves) thought this was hilarious, but after a while I wasn’t joking anymore.

Anyhoo, it’s just as well that this was only a week’s rental, because there’s just no way that Ol’ Robbo could see a long-term relationship with this car working out at all.

(By the bye, last time out we rented our econo-junker from some down-market outfit where the counter-guy didn’t appear to give much of a damn at all.  This time, we used Enterprise Rent-A-Car.   I dunno what it’s like in their other offices because it’s been years since the last time I dealt with them, but I can tell you that their people at the Denver airport are friendly and helpful almost to the point of ferocity.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yeah, about those Million Wimminz Marches today.  Frankly, Ol’ Robbo hasn’t really paid any attention to them himself because so far as I can make out it’s all really nothing more than an organized temper tantrum.

Eldest Gel got an email from her school the other day announcing that it would be sending a bus to the one in DeeCee if any of the students cared to participate.  The Gel told me she was within about half an inch of sending an email back asking, if that were the case, would the school also be sending a bus to the March for Life next Friday?

Prudence stopped her, but still: Heh.

She also keeps getting emails from the Dean of Students forwarding “information and resources” for dealing with the “trauma and stress” of the election.  She actually wrote back to the Dean on this, asking her  to please stop sending these missives a) because the Gel was tired of getting them and b) because not everyone was actually upset by the election results.

The Dean replied that they couldn’t start mucking about with the general campus email list just to accommodate individual student requests and that if the Gel didn’t like them, she should just delete without reading.

I kind of figured that would be the response, but I was glad the Gel made the point anyway.

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