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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo isn’t commenting yet on the details of the latest mass shooting up in Oregon as they still seem to be rather murky.  I’ll only offer this:

Why is it that the inevitable first response out of some people to this sort of thing is the demand for action that would only have the effect of disarming more law-abiding folks and providing that many more targets?

I’m sure there are those advocating tighter gun control who genuinely mean well and just don’t understand this concept.  However, I am equally sure there are those advocating said control who understand it very, very well.

With each of these incidents, Ol’ Robbo thinks harder and harder about arming up himself and his family.

UPDATE: So, from what I gather, the shooter here is of a mixed-race, foreign, broken home.  He may have been a Satanist, was definitely psychotic, and may have been on a Russian terror watch list as well.   Yep, only fix is to disarm you knuckle-dragging, flag-wrapping, bitter clinging ‘Muricans.  Yep.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s been a while since I last trotted out this meme, but it seems apropos here since the question of the moment is: A donde va Señor Wah-Keem?

A few clicks one way, it heads out to sea.

A few clicks t’other, a major pasting for the Port Swiller Manor neighborhood.

Eh.  From a practical standpoint, the only question is whether ol’ Robbo needs to clear the more airborne-potential items off his porch or not.  We shan’t see until Saturday morning, I guess.  Of course, the standard Port Swiller Manor disaster protocols still apply: Chop up the furniture for firewood as needed.  Eat the cats first.  If required, eat the children in descending order of annoyance.

We could hold out a while, if necessary.

Thinking about all this, I was reminded of my few past hurricane encounters.

Ol’ Robbo sat in the Port Swiller Manor library watching Isabel roll through back in ’03.  The main storm hit in teh evening.  What I recall mostly was the fantastic lightning effects:   The cloudbase was very low and most of the lightning within it gave off a diffuse, copper color.  Every now and then, however, there would be a bolt out of the clouds.  These were all of a fantastic, florescent blue, and of an intensity I’ve never seen in ordinary thunderstorms.  Quite dramatic.

I was also in central Connecticut when Gloria rolled through in ’85.  That storm hit us early in the morning.  Being college kids, our response was to huddle out in the dorm halls and party.  Candles and cheap champaign.  I must say, that was the earliest in the day I’ve ever got drunk and you can keep it.

Stretching further back, I have a very vague memory of Celia from my misspent yoot in San Antonio.  As I recall, this was the first time I saw the circular cloud bands associated with this kind of storm.

Of course, I should acknowledge that my brother holds the family record in these matters:  He was in Charleston when Hugo came ashore.  (He was in med school there at the time and was drafted into work at the local hospital.)  Bro told me that he doesn’t remember much in part because he was so busy and in part because everything was boarded up, but still……

Anyhoo, we shall see if we can haz panick….

UPDATE: Well, so much for that.  I’m not even bothering to take the glass or the magazines off the porch.  Fall is definitely here, however….


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool and cloudy Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor with rain threatening (or shall I say teasing) over the next few days.  Good time to sit out on the porch with coffee and dog.

Going back to work yesterday after taking off the previous three was…odd.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the President of China was going to be in town.  It was a bit disconcerting to see the ChiCom flag all over the place and I got caught in the gridlock caused by the departure of his motorcade on my drive home.

Nonetheless, a good day.  Mrs. R and the Eldest went down to Sweet Briar overnight to attend Founder’s Day, the Middle Gel got asked to the upcoming prom Homecoming and the Youngest landed a part in her school play.

As for the announcement of the resignation of Weepin’ John Boner from the House, I take that as a symbolic victory rayther than a substantive one, since I’m sure the GOPe will simply select another RINO squish to take his place, but it was still a Good Thing.  So when does Bitch McConnell get his?  And the reaction from a number of GOP legislators – about those mean old Tea Party whacko-birds getting uppity – ought to make it abundantly clear to anyone who hasn’t figured it out by now that the GOPe is not an opposition party but a collaborationist one and that the real political fault line here is not so much liberals vs. conservatives as insiders vs. outsiders.  Bad cess on the lot o’ them.

UPDATE:  New contacts are in and they’re fabulous, although it’s going to take me a while to get used to putting them in and getting them out, especially the latter.  (Hard lens removal is easy-peasy since all you have to do is stretch your eyelids to pop ’em out.  This putting your fingers on your eyeballs and scrunching the lenses up biznay will be a bit trickier, especially when ol’ Robbo is, shall we say, “tired”.)

Ol’ Robbo was looking forward eagerly to picking up his brand new trial set of disposable soft contacts today.  (I’ve been wearing hard, gas-permiables for over 35 years now and thought I’d try a change.)

Trouble was that once I got them in my eyes, although they felt mighty comfortable, I couldn’t see much of anything.

The optician who gave me the prescription last week was not my usual, but I had the latter today for testing them out.  He kept looking at her notes and muttering to himself as he flipped diagnostic lenses around, every now and then saying, “I’m just trying to get into her thought process here.”


Bottom line is that he wouldn’t let me leave with the lenses but instead is ordering up a different prescription which we’ll try next week when they get in.

I wonder if he’s going to say anything to her.  He certainly didn’t seem pleased with her work.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with His Holiness’s impending descent on Dee Cee and the mayhem it’s going to cause, ol’ Robbo decided that the prudent course would be to eat some leave time and stay out of the way until the whole thing has all blown over.  (I was strolling around the Mall at lunch yesterday and what with all the construction going on along the parade route – fences, marquees, port-o-johns and the grass being boarded over – it looked like a Capital Fourth on steroids.)  This will probably come back to bite me when the weather turns icy and snowy, but so be it.

Anyhoo, I recently made a swoop through the devil’s website and picked up a few items which may be of interest to friends of the decanter.

GBaUBofBFirst, I finally got around to bagging a couple of DVD’s that I’ve been meaning to get, namely the “Band of Brothers” box set and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”  Of the former, I will state once again that Damian Lewis looks like a constipated cat and that David Schwimmer, poor man, is doomed to be Ross from “Friends” no matter where he goes or what he does.  Of the latter, I think I’m only repeating the obvious in that it’s the best of Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy.  I do have one question that has always bugged me, however:  When Tuco shoots the bad guy from the tub, Clint hears the shot and says to the kitten, “Every gun has its own tune”,  meaning that he recognizes the sound and thus knows Tuco is around and can use him to help kybosh Angel Eyes’ gang who are holding Clint.  Well, that wasn’t the same pistol that Tuco had been using the last time Clint was with him, now was it.  So why would he say that?

A small point, but it bugs me.

GabrieliSecond, a couple of CD’s.  The local classickal station keeps a couple of canzons by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612) in its rotation, so I finally broke down and bought the disc from which they came, “Music of Gabrieli and His Contemporaries“.  Said contemporaries (none of whom I know) include Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634), Gabriel Diaz (1590-1638) and Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517).  The first three produced great, glorious, triumphal antiphone – Spain and Italy in all their Renaissance powerhouse.  The latter – who was obviously earlier – at least here seems much more contemplative and melancholy, traits which I associate with what little Late Medieval musick I have come across.   These pieces are all done by the Empire Brass on modern instruments which, I think, is acceptable, but I should like to hear them on period instruments, too.  The voice here covered by the trumpet would be played on the cornetto, a curved piece of wood that looks rayther like a gazelle’s horn.  I have a DVD of Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo” in which cornetti are used and they are quite supple.

Beethoven EroicaI also picked up a copy of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica”, performed by the Orechestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under the direction of Sir John Elliot Full-of-Himself.  I’ve actually got the box set of Beethoven’s symphonies by this lot, but the CD of the Eroica mysteriously vanished.  Perhaps it was the mice.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I like the story that ol’ Ludwig Van was set on dedicating this piece to Napoleon until he finally realized what a monster That Man actually was and became so enraged that he nearly tore the work up.  Ass.  By the way, Peter Schickele, in the guise of P.D.Q. Bach, did a very funny parody of the 4th movement from this piece in his “Preachers of Crimetheus” which you can find on his album, “1712 Overture and Other Musical Assaults“.

Sheed MoLSheed TheologyFinally, although I already have them but because the Pope is in town and a lot of people are saying a lot of very foolish, ignorant things about him and about Catholicism, let me again recommend a couple of books by Frank Sheed:  A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith and Theology For Beginners.  These were recommended to me by a seminarian doing a turn at my church this past summah and I can’t begin to tell you how much I have profited by them.  Straightforward, tightly reasoned and accessible to anyone who has the least talent for comprehension and willingness to make any kind of effort to actually understand what they are talking about.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest gel is taking a political science class this fall and has started coming home regularly fuming over the arguments in which she finds herself.

The latest was a tangle with a classmate who is a big Bernie Sanders fan because she thinks free health care and free education are a good idea.

“Look,” the gel said, “When goods and services have to be provided, there’s no such thing as free! Somebody is going to have to pay for it! Understand? No. Such. Thing. As. Free.

“Oh, yeah,” the classmate apparently responded, “Well you like the “Free Market”, don’t you? What about that?”

The gel was gobsmacked at this level of ignorance.

One of her favorite quotes these days is from George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

UPDATE:  Mrs. Robbo and I went to a school meeting last evening at which a so-called professional educator, a man who spent fifteen minutes gassing on about his own education in a British prep school and his love of history, made the extraordinary claim that Boadicea was a Queen of the Saxons.  It was all ol’ Robbo could do to resist jumping up and yelling, “Didn’t you learn your Tacitus? She was Queen of the Iceni!  A tribe of Britons wiped out 350 years before any Saxon set foot on the island! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, which ol’ Robbo shamelessly shamefully missed because he was too caught up in watching Star Trek: TOS DVDs to have any energy left to post about it.  Thus, I give you this a day late:

Curiously, I had the movie with which this piece is associated in my Netflix queue, and had thought it would arrive right around the appropriate date for viewing.  However, when I checked said queue this weekend, I discovered that my entire remaining  list had been wiped clean for some reason.  Go figure.  Personally, I blame Chinese Intelligence.

Anyhoo, I can’t let a belated celebration of Battle of Britain Day go by without reposting one of my favorite YooToob vids:

And not to start a fight, but I’m more of a fan of the Hawker Hurricane than I am of the Supermarine Spitfire.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Following on yesterday’s rains (which see below), the first genuine cool front of fall came through last evening, causing ol’ Robbo to run about this morning opening all the windows and otherwise reveling in teh first taste of cool, crispy goodiness.  According to my porch thermometer, we didn’t clear the 60’s today.

In case you didn’t know, autumn is ol’ Robbo’s very favorite season.  Apart from the change away from the oppressive (although this year, not so much) heat of summah, there is a certain memento mori air about the season that has always struck a chord with me.  I used to wallow in a kind of bittersweet romanticism about it, but in more recent years have come to recognize that this was so much existential wanking.  The goodiness that I appreciate – the crispness of the air, the beautiful colors, the sense of change – are actually mere foretastes of the joy I hope to experience in the next world.  So, really, nothing bitter about it.

fireAnyhoo, it was nice enough that this evening ol’ Robbo, er, fired up the port swiller fire pit so that teh Gels could make themselves some s’mores.  After they had withdrawn, I spent rayther a long while staring into the flames and mulling…well…I confess….what kind of blogpost I could make out of it.

No, really.  Here’s the thing: I love sitting in front of a fire, especially one outside.  I dunno if it’s some kind of Jungian race memory or what, but in such circumstances I feel myself shoulder to shoulder with all Humanity, right back to the time Ug and Nug figured out how to save a bit of burning wood from a lightning-blasted tree and to put it to good use, and forwarding right up through all the ages until, thanks to advanced technology, we cut ourselves off from it.

Kinda gives me the shivers.

Mind you, I certainly appreciate that, thanks to modern technology, I’m not actually compelled to sit around in front of a fire in order to survive.  But, on the other hand, I can’t help thinking that something has been lost, too.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The first genuine rainy day for a while in the port swiller neighborhood gets ol’ Robbo out of having to mow the lawn this morning, so how about a few idle observations?

♦   The kid at the hardware store this morning asked me if I needed help taking a 20 pound bag of bird food out to my car.  I know he was only trying to do his job but my first instinct was to punch him.  Do I look that decrepit before my morning coffee?

♦  As a matter of fact, I think I am getting kinda decrepit.  I crocked my right elbow kayaking on vacation.  That was the last week of July.  It hurts worse now.  Eh.

♦   Can somebody put me some knowledge about why this “deal” with Iran is so “historic”?  From what I understand, they get pretty much everything they want – self-monitoring, a big wodge of cash, etc., while we as a country are cordially invited to go stick our collective head in a pig.  Meanwhile, I gather all the Important People have little side arrangements of their own attached to the thing.  In the real world, that’s not a deal, it’s a sell-out.

♦  And what’s even more worrisome, the GOP-controlled Congress is in on it.  Most non-political junkies don’t know that the Senate adopted a procedural sleight of hand weeks ago making it near impossible for the actual substance of the deal to be voted on this week.  All you’ve heard about over the past couple days is simply an exercise in what Ace calls “Failure Theatre”.

♦  Oh, and while on the topic, let me just again reiterate that immigration without assimilation is invasion.

♦  And then they wonder why Teh Donald’s popularity is surging.

♦   Speaking of failure theatre,  stick a fork in the Nationals’ season because it’s done.  As is, I think, Matt Williams, whose chief flaw is an apparent inability to properly handle a bullpen.  Curiously, as I watched them drop their fourth straight game in a loss against the Fish last evening, all I felt was numbness.

♦   Speaking of handling things, it’s looking more and more like the Pope’s upcoming visit to Dee Cee is going to cause havoc.  We haven’t been told to go ahead and stay home yet, but they already making noise about telecommuting – something I’m not authorized to do because I don’t have an agreement in place.  Wouldn’t be surprised if unscheduled leave and/or closure don’t come into play.

♦   And no, I’ve no interest in trying to go see the parade.  I simply can’t warm up to Papa Franky.  If he isn’t an actual proponent of liberation theology (which, IMHO is nothing more that Marxism in a dog-collar), he sure sounds like one.

Whelp, time to go throw myself in the hammock and listen to the rain.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the first week of school in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor is coming to a close and it’s been quite a ride.


You see, the County decided that this year the high schools would start about an hour later than in the past, while the middle schools started somewhat earlier.  The result has been a disruption in traffic flow unforeseen by, well, just about everyone.  (I confess that I certainly hadn’t given it much consideration.)  In order to get to our local high school, teh Eldest has to drive past our local middle school.  Last year, this wasn’t an issue.  Now, she has to claw her way through heavy traffic and police direction, thus adding to her commute time.

Of course, it’ll all sort itself out, but my sense – based on my attempts to get everyone out the door and to adapt my own commute – is that this hasn’t happened yet.

Speaking of which…..

Teh Eldest is taking government and current events this year.  The first assignment was to “grade” the various elements of our political system: the three branches of government, the bureaucracy, the press, the voters, and so on.  (I gather that over the course of the semester, teh kids will be called upon to expand, develop, defend and possibly revise their initial grades.)

If I’ve done nothing else, I’ve instilled in Teh Eldest a healthy skepticism of Big Gub’mint.  She will tell you, if you ask, that utopian socialism is so much snake-oil because it can’t possibly work in the real world and because it is only offered by people actually seeking to increase their own power and control.

When teh Gel went down her sheet of current players, she scored nothing but D’s and F’s.  To her, the Donks are a bunch of Marxists and teh GOPe are a bunch of Quislings.

Her neighbor, glancing down at teh Gel’s sheet, said, “Wow, that’s kind of pessimistic.”

No,” teh Gel shot back, “It’s realistic!”

Heh.  That’s my gel.

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