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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Following up on my previous post, Ol’ Robbo spent a large chunk of last evening and this morning watching all the nearly four hours of “Ben-Hur“.  Although I recollect bits and pieces of it from various teevee airings in the past, I do believe this was the first time I sat down and watched the whole thing right the way through.  Is it wrong that I got pretty choked up during the Good Friday finale?

Next on my Netflix DVD list is a movie called “The Case for Christ” (2017).  I can’t tell if it’s a comedy, a drama or a documentary: the blurb says its the story of an investigative reporter who sets out to debunk the claims of Christianity in order to spike his wife for converting (charming fellah), and finds some surprising results.  I’ve no recollection where I read or heard about this film, but I doubt I’d have tossed it in my queue if I thought it was going to be bad.  I’ll let you know.

Then there’s “Unplanned“.  I’m torn about this one:  I don’t need to see it because I hardly need convincing of its message, and I don’t want to because, well, I’m squeamish.  But should I buy a ticket in support and then just not use it?  On the other hand, I hear it’s playing to packed theatres: Would occupying a seat in absentia, as it were, keep that seat from somebody else for whom it might be more beneficial?  I just don’t know.

OFF-TOPIC UPDATE:  Okay, this is really getting out of hand:  After dropping off Mrs. R and Youngest at the airport for their trip to Flahrduh to visit Mrs. R’s parents this morning, and before sitting down to watch B-H, Ol’ Robbo got out in the yard and reseeded several bald patches in the lawn with some Scott’s Turf-Builder I bought a couple weeks back.  I was just now over at Insty’s place and the sidebar ad was for….Scott’s Turf-BuilderStop it, Surveillance State! Go away! Go away!!

UPDATE DEUX:  Thankee for all the input on “The Case for Christ”.  I looked it up on IMDB and noticed Faye Dunaway, of all people, is in the cast, which probably should have been a tell.  (I didn’t even know she was still alive.)

BUMPED UPDATE TROIS:  RJB’s comment about economic warfare re “Unplanned” is well-taken.  I went ahead and ordered two tickets for a showing this afternoon at a fairly empty theatre in darkest-blue Bethesda. (Bwahaha…..)  It was all the easier because my Bishop’s Lenten Appeal invoice came in the mail today so I had my credit card out and the innertoobs activated already.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that the weather-reporting section of the press has its knickers in a twist this week over a series of “bomb cyclones” churning over the upper Midwest.

It’s my understanding that “bomb cyclone” has been weather-nerd shorthand for an extratropical low pressure area of a given intensity for quite some time, but as best I can recollect, the term has really only been latched onto and popularized by the mainstream press within the last few years or so.

Part of this is just click-bait and ratings-whoring, of course, like the Weather Channel’s arbitrary decision to start naming winter storms.  But I believe there’s more to it.

If you report “Early Spring Snowstorm Sweeps Rockies, Upper Midwest” the average person will shrug and say, “So what’s new?”

But report “Bomb Cyclones Pound Great Lakes Region” and the message becomes completely different.  The same person will begin to wonder.  “Bomb” cyclone? That sounds violent….and unnatural…As if Planet Earth’s balance is somehow out of whack.  Could it be that we really are destroying the atmosphere with our way of life?

And I don’t think Robbo is entering tinfoil hat territory here.  First, I truly believe that the whole “debate” over “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” or whatever term it goes by today has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics (i.e., the push for globalist, technocratic collectivism).  Second, as I’ve said countless times to anyone who will stand still long enough, who controls the language  controls the debate.  (Hence the tussle over whether the people pouring across the Southern Border are “illegals” or “undocumented”.  Hence the branding by the Left of anyone who dare challenge its pogrom against Judeo-Christian teaching on marriage and the family as “phobes” and “haters”.)  It’s the same deal here: Make ordinary atmospheric phenomena sound scary enough and who in their right mind would dare challenge the assertion that Steps Must Be Taken?

Speaking of which, I notice that Insty recently took steps to clean up the trash ads in his sidebar, but before he did, one of the ads carried a banner headline that read something like, “SCIENTISTS URGE ONLY TEN YEARS TO PREVENT CATASTROPHIC GLOBAL WARMING”.  The illustration? A dark, steamy, rain-foresty place full of…..dinosaurs.  You know, you all remember reading in your history books about the First Industrial Age on this planet that was taken out by that giant asteroid 65 million years ago, right?




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was most surprised to learn of the passing this week of former Senator Earnest F. “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina at the age of 97, because I hadn’t even realized that he was still alive.

I actually met Ol’ Fritz one time.  My newly-retired parents were living in South Carolina while I went to law school, and through writing to his office I snagged a summah internship with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on which he was, I believe, the Ranking Member at the time, with McCain in the Chair.  Or perhaps the other way round, I can’t remember.  (It was, by the bye, an utterly useless gig from a substantive point of view., but it gave me my first up-close-and-personal peek at the Swamp.)

Anyhoo, one afternoon Hollings came round the office to say an official “thank you” to those of us there for the summah.  As I shook hands with him, he asked me where in South Carolina I was living.  When I told him, he said, “Ah, big CO-caine bust ’round theyah a few weeks back.  Lotta drugs confiscated…lotta money…some cars and guns…..You weren’t mixed up in any of that now, were ya?”

“Noooo…..” I replied, “But I haven’t heard from Mom and Dad for a while now….”

He was good enough to laugh.

Somewhere or other I’ve still got the autographed photo of us shaking hands, Hollings looking every inch the politico, Self looking like a depraved moron.

Anyway, rest in peace.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had considered putting up a post about the new four-handed “consent” condom as the latest example of the disaster that is “sexual liberation”.  When, I felt like asking again, are the feminist crowd finally going to admit that separating sex from procreation was a huge mistake, that the whole thing was actually cooked up by dudes as a way to get the milk without buying the cow, and that they (the feminists) got seriously, seriously scammed.  (It was a brilliant sell.  Completely evil, but brilliant nonetheless.)  My guess is no time soon and that they will continue to apply these Rube Goldberg-like band-aids to the insoluble problems of “casual” sex.

But it’s such a lovely day today that I really don’t have the heart to rant.  [Ed. – Except it looks like you already did.]  So instead, I give you a recent article  about a new study which claims to have established experimentally that cats understand some words.

Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo says there’s no evidence cats actually attach meaning to our words, not even their own names. Instead, they’ve learned that when they hear their names they often get rewards like food or play, or something bad like a trip to the vet. And they hear their names a lot. So the sound of it becomes special, even if they don’t really understand it refers to their identity.

Well remember, that’s what cats let on to knowing.  What secrets they harbor inside remain unfathomable.

We’re on our fifth and sixth cats now.  Certainly, all the kittehs we’ve owned (“His cat he calls her but she owns him not”)** have known their names, plus a few other words.  “Mouse” and “treat” are among the terms that have meaning for our current pair. “Mouse” refers to the little plastic toys Ginger loves having thrown for her, while “treat” means Fiona has once again hypnotized Mrs. R into going to the pantry.

Of course, most of our communication with them is non-verbal – body language, facial expression, and the like.  Somebody ought to study that.  With a little practice and discernment, there’s a vast wealth of signals a cat can shoot at you just by the way she cocks her ears or flicks her tail.  And in fact, that language is far, far subtler than anything our dog is capable of communicating.

And, of course, obligatory to a post touching on feline sneekiness:


**Spot the quote

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A long slog home this evening, probably due to all the Cherry Blossom tourism this week (which I believe is peak week here).  So as my rice and shrimp are getting ready to be cooked, how ’bout a quick odd or end?

♦  I never go see the Cherry Blossoms myself, although I can, of course, see them from a distance.  I avoid the scene for the same reason I avoid the Capitol Fourth down the Mall:  too damn many people clogged together.  I’m not so much misanthropic in this as claustrophobic.

♦  There are now plenty of ordinary tourists on the Mall even without special events.  As I go for my lunchtime walk, I have to dodge and weave among the various groups plunging in random directions.  I usually find myself with the theme from Han Solo piloting the Falcon through the asteroid field.  “Never tell me the odds!”

♦   As Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats managed to eek out a walk-off walk to beat the Phils this afternoon, I am putting on hold my call for the head of Dave Martinez.  But only temporarily.  Ol’ Robbo’s suddenly got a baaaaad feeling about this season so far.  UPDATE: A pretty solid win against the Mets this afternoon makes me feel a bit better about things.

♦   Speaking of bad feelings, the past few nights I’ve found myself going through cycles of sweats and chills.  I looked up the symptoms on line today and evidently I might either be experiencing menopause or else have developed thyroid cancer.  (It’s on the innerwebz so it has to be true, right?)

♦   I watched “The Thin Man” recently after a very, very long hiatus.  Maybe I was just in a cranky mood, but I found myself put off by the debauched character of the film.  Probably didn’t help that I recently learned the character of Nora Charles was Dashiell Hammett’s besotted tribute to Lillian Hellman, who was a thoroughly nasty piece of work.  Feh.

Well, the rice is now thoroughly soaked and the shrimp thawed, so I better get to them.  Later, gators!

UPDATE DEUX:  Yes, Ol’ Robbo knows these updated posts are the equivalent of reheated leftovers as opposed to freshly made new content.  I can only plead that we’ve had a heavy softball schedule for Youngest Gel’s team this week and it’s fouled up my usual evening routine.  I am, in fact, eating literal reheated leftovers even as I type this, as these games involve getting home rather latish from the ballpark and not only do I feel no inclination to cook, I also don’t want to fill up on a real meal this close to beddy-bye times.  (Which see nighttime complaints mentioned above.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel has a softball game this evening.  This morning Ol’ Robbo said to her, “So, you guys are playing Washington & Lee tonight, right?”

“Oh, noooo,” she replied, “They changed that.  It’s now ‘Washington & Liberty High School.”

Cor’ lumme, stone the crows.

I suppose this happened as part of the fallout from that highly-suspicious biznay in Charlottesville a year or two back, and I somehow just missed it.

Well, my politickally-correct pretties, let Uncle Robbo put you some knowledge: You think “Liberty” is a harmless, even good substitute for an unpersoned badman now, but if the country keeps veering farther and farther toward leftist totalitarianism, that word, too, will become double plus ungood wrongthink, a foul rallying point for the hoarders, wreckers, and saboteurs among those of us kulaks who still believe it to be an individual right given to us by God instead of a collective one only to be doled out (or taken away) by the State as it sees fit.

Just see if it doesn’t.

My own Dubyuhnell stopped short of such nonsense for now, mostly I suspect for fear of alumni wrath. But I’ll bet it’s still in the cards somewhere.  I don’t really have much to do with the school anymore since it lurched left, but I still have alumni plates on my car.  If they ever actually do change the school’s name, I’ll keep those plates just by way of flipping them off.

Just see if I don’t.

UPDATE:  I went to the school’s website to find out where it actually is located and was surprised to see it still listed as Washington-Lee.  My first hope was that maybe Youngest had been mistaken, but a further Binging  shows that yes, they voted to change the name, but it only happened a couple months ago.  Feh.  I suppose that school site is in for one hell of a Politburo-style whitewashing, because it’s chock-a-block with the school’s history and traditions, complete with its linkage to my old school.

UPDATE DEUX: And bang on cue, Insty is carrying a story today about the National Guard changing their Minuteman recruiting logo because today’s kidz are too damn stupid and ill-educated to even know what a Minuteman actually was.  (Plus, flint-lock muskets are totes scary!)

The most chilling thing is that these idiocies are planned and deliberate.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It took Ol’ Robbo almost exactly four hours to get home from his office to Port Swiller Manor this evening, a distance of something like 14 miles altogether.  I believe this is a personal record for me.  Certainly I could have walked it fairly comfortably in that time.  I could also have handily driven to Pittsburgh, either of the Elder Gels’ schools, or to the top of the GW Bridge in Noo Yawk (with a pit stop at Delaware House, to boot).

Evidently, a tanker truck flipped over in my quadrant of the Beltway early in rush hour.  The system around here is just adequate enough to handle the ordinary flow of traffic.  When there’s a super-abundance or else a blockage at one of the many choke-points, the whole thing can go sideways in a hurry.

You would think Ol’ Robbo would be a jangle of strained nerves and seething anger after such an ordeal.  Certainly Mrs. R was expecting it when I got home.  But you would be mistaken.

For one thing, by great good fortune, not only had I topped up my gas tank this morning, I also got a large (as opposed to regular) size sammich at Potbelly’s for lunch, and stopped by the restroom before leaving my office.  So there were no especial, ah, material concerns to worry me.

For another, though, as I sat slooooowly making my way toward the river crossing, I found myself aware of great reservoirs of calm and patience inside.  I saw other drivers losing it around me, but for my part, I just watched the very pretty sunset, listened to the local mockingbirds, tried to be as courteous as possible to fellow stuckees, and let it all slide on by.

Our Padre has been hammering the theme of the Prayer Life for some weeks now during his homilies, particularly the importance of morning prayer as a means by which to put things in perspective (God first, others second, self third, to borrow the motto of the Gels’  summah Bible-thumper camp) before confronting the day.  Ol’ Robbo has been working particularly hard on this as part of his Lenten exercises, and it seems to be paying off.  As I say, I remained quite at peace.  And now that I’m home, I feel no inclination whatever to use the experience as an excuse to break my fast and have a “hardship” glass of wine.  (Well, okay, maybe a little inclination.  But still a surmountable one.)

It also probably helps that tomorrow is my off day, that it’s going to be quite warm, and that I get to try out my brand-new spreader to weed and feed the yard, which I’ve been looking forward to for some weeks now.

UPDATE:  Turns out Youngest got caught in the maelstrom, too.  Took her an hour to get home from school.  Took her two hours to get back to school for softball (which, fortunately, just consisted of cheering on the varsity game).  Our Baby’s first traffic jam!  She was incensed after crawling all the way to her usual Beltway crossing to discover that it had been closed and she was detoured back almost to where she had started.  Welcome to Life, kiddo….


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is on a one-night hit-and-run biznay trip to a seekrit location very close to the geographical center of the Lower 48.

I flew out in the wee dark hours this morning, got my biznay taken care of, and got back to the hotel a little while ago for a long, hot shower.  Now, having just scarfed down a Wendy’s double-cheeseburger and fries, and with nothing else on my agenda until I have to catch the homeward flight early tomorrow morning, what am I to do?  (Theoretically, I could have hopped a flight home this evening.  But it would have taken five hours, involved a change of planes at O’Hare, and would have dumped me at home well past midnight.  Forget that.)

Why, blog, of course!

And since I happen to be staying in a Holiday Inn Express, you can take it as read that all facts and opinions contained herein are accurate and especially smart.

♦  Let me just say here (perhaps again) that Dulles is a horrible, horrible airport.  Enormous, ugly, soulless, and the slowest security lines I know.  The only way it scores over Reagan/National is that the parking and pick-up/drop-off areas are both bigger and simpler.  That’s it.  And nobody I knows considers that to be enough of an advantage to make it preferable.

♦  Ol’ Robbo can’t remember the last time he flew without checking a bag through.  (I’m a heavy packer.)  But since I’m only here overnight, this time I just brought along my little, ah, overnight bag.  As I humped it through the airport, I realized I must be about the last person on the planet who doesn’t have such a bag with wheels and a handle attached to it.

♦  I’m also, apparently, the last person who doesn’t use an electronic navigation system while driving, especially in a place new to me.  My colleague seemed downright surprised when I mentioned I’d made it from the airport to his office just by studying a map ahead of time and doing a little bit of dead-reckoning.  I keep telling people that when Skynet goes active, the first thing it’ll do is route everyone using such gadgets straight into ambush, but do they listen? Nooooo…..

♦  Speaking of cars and control, I absolutely point-blank refuse ever, ever to get into a driverless vehicle.  I’d sooner walk.  You can bank it.

♦  Also speaking of cars, my mantra for tomorrow is. “I will NOT forget my sunglasses in the rental again! I will NOT forget my sunglasses in the rental again! I will NOT……”

♦  The news the last couple days has been so full of awesomeness stuffed with chunks of awesome and covered in awesome-sauce  that I’m not sure I can stand it much longer.  The story that made me laugh out loud today, however, was the Senate’s slamming of Alex Occasional-Cortex’s Big Green Terror bill.  That Cocaine Mitch had the cojones to put it up for a vote and that the Donks ran away en masse is the stuff of things which prescription drug companies warn old men should not last longer than four hours.   It’s schaden-licious!

♦  Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, no, no brackets from Robbo.  Basketball interests me not at all, plus I have at best a few twice-removed  connections to any of the schools that might have a serious dog in the fight.

Well, I suppose that’s enough to go on for now.  Make of it what you will.

Home Again, Home Again UPDATE:

Yes, Ol’ Robbo is back safe and sound at Port Swiller Manor again.

♦  One of the marks of a really good airport is that it is laid out and prominently labeled in a way that allows a bleary-eyed stranger to find his way to the rental car return in the dark smoothly and without a fuss.  Ol’ Robbo salutes Kansas City International for being such a place.  (By contrast, I got lost trying to get out of DFW, in broad daylight no less, last time I was there.)

♦  I was especially bleary-eyed this ack emma because I really don’t sleep on travel, especially when I’ve knocked off the sauce.  Instead, I drift in and out of my Spirit World and come up to full consciousness about every hour or so.  It’s a noisy place, my Spirit World, filled with voices, sound-effects, and musick.  Not scary, but terribly, terribly complicated.

♦  I almost always do crosswords to wile away the time on my flights.  This morning I found myself furiously digging through the lumber room of my mind trying to remember the name of Alf’s home planet.  (It’s Melmac.) I wasted huge amounts of time before I finally remembered it, but after all that’s supposed to be the point.  On the other hand, since I hang around Quiltbabe’s place so much, “units for purchasing yarn” don’t even slow me down.

Well, enough of this.  Mission accomplished.  Now I’ve got a serious date with a dog and some nap time.






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo caught bits and pieces of the story of the Iranian Christian convert turned down for asylum by the Brits on the grounds that Christianity is not a peaceful religion, but the story turns out to be even more horrible than I had thought. (Warning, UK Daily Mail link)

The Home Office turned down a Christian convert’s bid for asylum in an ‘unbelievably offensive’ letter quoting bloodthirsty passages from the bible to prove Christianity is not a religion of peace.

The Iranian national claimed asylum in 2016, but was turned down, with Home Office officials saying his conversion from Islam was ‘inconsistent’ with his claim Christianity was a peaceful religion – by highlighting violent passages from the bible.

In the refusal letter six passages are listed and a claim is made that Revelations is filled with ‘images of revenge, destruction, death and violence.’

Un. Bulievable.

The Home Office seems to be getting a lot of flak for this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision is reversed.  But it’s only a check: They’ll be back at it again soon enough.

Meanwhile, on a much happier note, our Padre confirmed today what I’ve been noticing with my own eyeballs for some weeks now:  Attendance at our Traditional Latin Mass has been growing steadily.  Apparently it’s the same with the other Masses as well.  Thank Heaven I have such a strong parish.  I sometimes get depressed when I see what people are shrieking at each other over social media.  Makes it seem as if the whole world is going to hell.  But then I see something like this and my hope is restored.

And speaking of Hope, I’m sure friends of the decanter are aware that tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation. J.R.R. Tolkien always insisted his Lord of the Rings was not allegorical.  On the other hand, it’s no accident that he chose March 25 as the date for the destruction of the Ring and the downfall of Sauron.

And this gives me an excuse to repost one of my favorite paintings, The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937).  I like it because his rather non-traditional rendering of the Angel’s appearance is very close to the images of such manifestations as described in the writings of C.S. Lewis, particularly in his Ransom Trilogy.  I don’t know if Lewis knew Tanner’s painting, but I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.   Anyway, enjoy!

Mrs. Robbo’s iPhone developed some kind of internal problem and stopped working this morning.  Because of scheduling issues, it fell upon Self to toddle off to the Apple Store at the mall to see what could be done about it.  I took Youngest Gel along to act as guide and interpreter.  (She served as chauffer as well.)

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been to the mall in ages for a very good reason:  I can’t stand them. Especially when, like today, they’re full of people milling about in random, entropic shoals and continually either bouncing off of one or blocking one’s path.  It brings out the misanthrope in me.

As for Apple, that place gives me the creeps just from the sheer volume of information they must be sucking in every time a customer brings a gadget to them.  Also from the long con on the technology they offer.  Even the Gel knows it:  “They rig iPhones to break just when the new models come out so you have to buy one, don’t they?”  she said.

Yes, yes they do.

Bringing the Gel along was an inspiration, by the bye, and was the only thing that let me succeed in getting Mrs. R’s  problem resolved:

Technician: “Okay, now go ahead and enter your Apple ID…”

Self: “My whu-?”

Gel: “Give me that..” [Types in relevant code]

She also showed me and explained in words of one syllable how to backup all of Mrs. R’s data into “the Cloud” and then bring it back once the phone was working again, something that would have been far beyond my own skills.

I bought her some complicated strawberry drink and a cup full of pretzel bites after we were done with genuine gratitude.



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