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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Whelp, ol’ Robbo finds himself knocking about Port Swiller Manor for the third day, quietly waiting for Pope Francis to wrap things up downtown and head north.
♦ Frankly, I’ve not paid the least attention to the coverage of events so far. For one thing, I absolutely refuse to let the media (mainstream OR social) tell me what I ought to make of it all. For another, I just don’t cotton to anything that smacks of celebrity hype. (Of course, to be perfectly honest with myself I acknowledge that I might be singing a different tune if this were St. John Paul II or Benedict and not Francis.) For a third, as an ordinary every-Sunday foot soldier, I get the same feeling about the outpouring of enthusiasm associated with the visit as I do about the crowds who show up only for Christmas and Easter services.
♦ Fingers crossed, please: Eldest Gel fired off her early-decision application to Sweet Briar College last evening. We should get a yea or nay within two weeks or so. I don’t know why they wouldn’t accept her (good ACT’s, steadily rising high school GPA and a legacy several times over, plus the school really needs to grow its student body again so it’s a buyer’s market), but the process is unnerving just the same.
♦ Watching the con-trails of jets cruising overhead this morning, I got wondering about calculating their distances from my porch. If I assume a plane is at an altitude of, say, six miles and accurately measure the angle of the hypotenuse from my point of observation, using right triangle
geometry trig I ought to be able to calculate the length of that hypotenuse, yes? Or no?
♦ Well, at six and a half games behind with only about ten days left in the season, I just don’t think my beloved Nats are going to catch the Mets. Ah, well. Is it possible that the “Back To The Future, Part 2” prophesy will be fulfilled by the Cubbies taking it all this year? If they make the post-season, I will certainly root for them.
Anyhoo, time for moar coffee.
UPDATE: A glass of wine with Don for putting me some stuff-you-should-have-remembered-from-school knowledge in response to the cruising jet question. All I can say is that it’s been a very long time since I did any trig.
Anyhoo, out of curiosity, I ran a couple calculations, assuming a jet to be cruising at an altitude of 37,000 ft, or 7 miles just to make it simpler. An observed angle of 35 degrees produces a line between my eye and the plane of just over 12 1/4 miles. An observed angle of 20 degrees gives a distance of just over 20 1/2 miles.
The thing is, these results are mighty near what I would have guessed just eyeballing it. Pretty cool.
(And yes, you can see a jet at 20 miles. Or rather, at certain times of day around dawn and dusk, you can see sunlight reflecting off of them sometimes.)
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!
Ol’ Robbo apologizes again for the dearth of meaningful posting here. I’ve been spending a lot of time away from teh computer lately, either soaking in the first hints of approaching autumn (my favorite season of the year) or else glued to the teevee (in fact, frequently yelling at it much to the annoyance of my family) in anguished suspense, hoping my beloved Nats can catch the Mets. (We’re only down by four now, having swept the Braves this weekend, and open a home stand against the Mets this afternoon. It’s gonna be yuuuge.)
In the meanwhile, Robbo is enjoying this Labor Day by pointedly refusing to mow the lawn and also by reveling in de lamentations of de vimmin, as it’s Back to School tomorrow morning for the Gels: Senior, sophomore and 8th grader. Where does the time get to?
In the meanwhile, a few idle observations:
♦ At long, long last, I have actually started some preliminary work on the idea I have long nourished of trying to compose another entry in the Flashman Papers that covers Flashy’s involvement in the American Civil War. Granted, so far it’s nothing more than taking notes on references to his adventures there as I read the other novels, but hey, it’s a start, no? I reckon to be poking at this off and on for the rest of my sentient life.
♦ My big plan for today is to wash La Wrangler. If you knew how infrequently I actually do this, you would be impressed: It must be a good three or four years since the last time. I’ve always felt there was something wrong with the sort of people who are compulsive about keeping their wheels shiny.
♦ Watched “Annie Hall” last evening for the first time in years. Eh, I can see that it’s well done but, apart from “Sleeper” Allen’s stuff doesn’t age well with me. (BTW, I hadn’t noticed before that Christopher Walken played Diane Keaton’s little brother. I had to stifle a comment about more cowbell.)
♦ My poor brother has to have back surgery this week – blew a disc through too much running. I’m glad that my own shot knees give me the excuse not to have to indulge in such an unhealthy pastime.
♦ Message to GOPe: Calling conservatives dupes and morons is not going to attract us back into the fold. Just saying.
Whelp, off to give the car her bath and then settle in for the game. What else can one say except
Ol’ Robbo, having seen the Nats pull back up to within 5 1/2 of the Mets this evening, spent the shank of it on a whim listening to some of the orchestral works of Robert Schumann – the 1st (“Spring”) and 3rd (Rhenish”) symphonies, to be exact.
Oh, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. I admire your keyboard talent, but wish heartily that when you applied yourself to the symphonic oeuvre, you had had a good editor at your side armed with a large bat.
“No, Robert, we do not do it this way. No, Robert! We! Do! Not! Do! It! This! Way!”
*Wham! Wham! Wham!*
Might have helped. While there are lots of good ideas there, they really are, structurally speaking, a hot mess.
Actually, my favorite Schumann symphony is his 4th (the revised, 1851 version – I’ve heard the earlier go and it’s an even hotter mess). I was first introduced to it by the Old Gentleman in my misspent yoot, when he would play his 8-track tape of it in our old Ford Country Squire station wagon on our hunting and fishing road-trips, and it just stuck.
But it’s good to know his others, even if I’m not crazy about them.
Speaking of Romantic Era symphonies, I am in the market for the complete sets of both Mendelssohn and Dvorak. Anyone have any recommendations? (With regard to the latter, I know his 7th, 8th and 9th very well but almost nothing about the first six. In re the former, my favorites are teh “Scottish” and the “Reformation”.) References to historickally informed performances, especially with regard to ol’ Felix, are especially appreciated.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Sorry for the lack of posting this week. Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue. It happens. So here are just a few things:
♦ Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently. The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism. Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality: Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”. Ever. Period. Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced. Argh!
UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint. Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:
1. You spend your own money on yourself. You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.
2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.
3. You spend other people’s money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.
4. You spend other people’s money on other people. And in this case, who gives a shite?
Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.
How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army? No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.
♦ I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment. I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism. Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me. I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is. The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16: Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”
UPDATE: Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some. I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life. In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker. However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet. OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed. But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party. I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.
♦ Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening. Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist. How much money does the WNBA actually pull in? (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards. Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time. MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it. I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.
♦ Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers. The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they? UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we. This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.
♦ The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies. I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s. (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.) Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words. I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.
♦ Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain. We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July. I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here. (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house. Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.) Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work. As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.” One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon. UPDATE: Well, so much for that.
Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Although ol’ Robbo, having taken care of this past week’s necessary Saturday morning yard work ’round Port Swiller Manor quickly and efficiently, looked forward to a very delightfully (and unusually) cool, late-August afternoon in the hammock with a glass full of ice and a Flashman story, instead I found myself dragooned by teh Eldest Gel into going bowling with her.
Apparently, I don’t bond with said EG enough, DAD! And I need to take advantages of these invitations, DAD! Before she goes off to college next year, DAD! Because if I refuse she will come away with no other thoughts about me except my coldness and how to deep-six me in a retirement home for the minimal cost to herself, DAD!
To which my reply has always been, in so many words, “Shut up.”
Nonetheless, I went.
Pricking my memory very hard, I cannot recall than I have bowled since high school. Back then, not only did I go down to the lanes with my friends on Saturday afternoons fairly regularly, I actually once took a semester course in the game in order to avoid the Lord of the Flies locker room of my school’s gym. As I recall, at my peak I was bowling somewhere in the 200 range.
The Gel didn’t know any of this history. Thus, when I stepped up to my very first frame and bowled a perfect strike, she was, shall we say, perturbed.
Heh. Almost made the whole thing worth it.
Of course, although I got a subsequent smattering of strikes and spares, I couldn’t keep it up. My hands have since become arthritic. I wrenched something in my rights forearm kaiaking on vacation a couple weeks ago. Because I don’t dance, my pelvic muscles aren’t used to the stretches and strains of the proper bowling delivery. And don’t ask about my rowing-blown knees. By the third game, I was well over my pitch-count limit and was tossing nothing but junk. And for the last couple days, I’ve been hobbling.
Nonetheless, I can report that I beat teh Gel, two games out of three, despite the fact that she was using the gutter rails. Of course, some of this might have had to do with the fact that her own delivery is something closer to a baseball submarine pitch than to an orthodox bowl. So there’s that.
I will say also that bowling alleys ain’t what they were back in my day, at least some of them. This one was one of those jazzed up kinds with lots of black-light, laser lighting, thumping “music”, automatic scoring, and big screen teevees featuring ESPN and teh kiddy channelz. As the Gel warned, watching SpongeBob and listening to Katy Perry at the same time is a most, um, disturbing thing.
No, as I sat through all the noise, I couldn’t help thinking of teh Good Old Days:
Heh. Even now I still use “Buh-dee” on a regular basis.
Teh Younger Gels were away this week, visiting their cousins up in Bah-ston. Upon their return, they heard all about what I was up to with EG. Guess what they want to do next weekend.
Not sure I’ll be healed in time for it.
There’s a moment in one of my favorite movie musickals, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, in which the braggart soldier is just about out of patience at the delay in the appearance of the virgin bride for which he’d payed and for whom he’d come to collect, and the slave in chief of the house in which said soldier (wrongly) believes the girl to be is starting to freak out:
Hysterium: Uh, Whu, Um, Oh…
Hysteriun: Buh, Whu, Uh…….
Hysterium: Buh, Uh, Whu….
Pseudolus: CALM yourself! I’ll tell you when it’s time to panic.
Miles Gloriosus: Bring me that girl at once or you all shall perish!
Pseudolus: It’s time…..
I find myself fighting mighty hard against going all Hysterium myself as I contemplate the current situation of my beloved Nationals. Four games back of the Mets and playing, shall we say, distinctly ho-hum ball. Yeah, I didn’t really expect to win this week against Kershaw and Greinke, but we’ve dropped a bunch of games recently that we should have won, largely due to poor bullpen management and underperforming run production.
I remind myself that we are facing, this week, probably the last really hard series of the season, taking on the Dodgers and teh Giants at their respective parks. I recently read somewhere or other that our last six weeks’ schedule is, given the records of our opponents, one of the easiest in the league.
I remind myself that we still haven’t played a game this season with our entire starting squad owing to injuries and that, even though Zimmerman, Werth and Rendon have recently returned, it’s going to take them a while to get up to peak form. (And as I write, I don’t yet know anything about the latest injury to Harper.)
I remind myself that the Mets have a very, very young starting rotation and also that, well, they’re the Mets, and that although they are currently hot, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to fall apart.
Nonetheless, I see where the knives are beginning to come out for Manager Matt Williams and I’m not so sure that I can resist the temptation to take up the call for his scalp myself.
Man, I love this game but I also really hate it.
Well, what else is there to say except
Ol’ Robbo just watched his beloved Nats snap a four game losing streak in a riveting performance against the D-backs of Arizona.
Let me be clear about something here: Anyone who thinks our great National Pastime is “boring” is, how shall I put it, a complete idiot.
Indeed, my liver and my vocabulary would be in considerably better shape if baseball was, in fact, as boring as said idiots claim, so I make this charge completely free of bias.
That is all.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, ol’ Robbo’s summah hols officially began. (I say “officially” because at least in spirit I had already left the office at the beginning of the week, doing nothing much more than sorting things between that which I could ignore until I get back and that which I could ignore full stop.) Tomorrow we go to meet up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family at a lake house on which we’re going snacks, there to loaf about, perhaps kayak a bit, play some croquet and badminton, and drink large quantities of adult beverages.
We tried this a couple years ago down in the Outer Banks and I can’t say I enjoyed it very much. The “house” there was actually a condo built right smack in the middle of a zillion other condos. It was too small for the ten of us and the whole area was far, far too crowded for Robbo’s taste. This year we’ve got a real house, set on its own on a little point of land with a dock and a small beach, so I’m hoping it will be genuinely relaxing.
“Say, Robbo, don’t you usually go up tah Maine and stare at the bay?” I hear some of you asking. Well, yes, we did for many years, but I’m afraid that’s about over. The cottage is crumbling and, not being very efficient slumlords or investment wizards, we just don’t generate the kind of dosh necessary to really fix it up or, better yet, knock it down and start over. So it’s on the market. (If any of you are interested, ignore that part about crumbling.) Also, I just don’t think Mrs. R and the gels really liked it very much – they are of the school of holiday-making that requires stimulation and entertainment, two things you’re just not going to find in Midcoast Maine. I’m sure gonna miss it, though.
Anyhoo, I probably won’t be around here very much for the next week, so for your consideration I present some few thoughts still idling round my otherwise rapidly stagnating braim:
♦ I must say that I continue to delight in watching
Gozer the Gozarian Teh Donald flip the bird at the MSM (or, as the Puppy-Blender likes to call them, “Democratic operatives with bylines”) and cause the GOP Establishment to soil its collective undies. The GOPe has absolutely nobody to blame for all this than themselves. While the Donks have gone national socialist, the GOP has gone Vichy despite being elected specifically to stop the drift lurch left. Teh Donald is simply filling the void where we fools thought the Establishment would stand and fight. To hell with them. (Oh, and here’s a pro tip, GOPe: Don’t call us stupid.)
♦ Speaking of such things, I see where Berke Breathed has resurrected Bloom County. Good on him and I hope he keeps it up. I’m curious to see how well he gets on. Although he’s something of a lefty, B.C. was never of the same self-rightious un-funny smarminess as Doonesbury and Breathed wasn’t afraid to go after twits on his side of the fence from time to time. However, that was back in the 80’s and 90’s, before the advent of the Social Justice Warrior cadre. Wonder what will happen the first time he takes a swipe at one of their sacred cows. (Small point of trivia: Breathed went to college with my high school Latin teacher.)
♦ What can ol’ Robbo say of his beloved Nationals except thank God the rest of the N.L. East is so awful this year. In case you haven’t been following things, our trouble is injuries: better than half of our starters are out at the moment. And while the bench guys have been doing as well as anyone could possibly hope, there’s a reason they’re bench guys after all. During the game last evening, F.P. Santangelo (the Nats’ teevee color guy) said the team reminded him of the Memphis Belle – banged up, shot up, but still leading. I chuckled appreciatively at that little bit of historickal allusion.
♦ Following up on our bear-sighting of this week, I was out mowing in the little clearing behind the back fence this morning (keeping an eye peeled over my shoulder, you may be sure) when I suddenly stepped in the answer to the rhetorical question about bears and woods. Yes. Yes, they do.
♦ The Family Robbo has been obsessed over the past couple weeks with playing a board game called Colorku, which seems to be Sudoku involving colored balls instead of numbers. Being a crossword snob, I never got into sudoku myself so have no real interest in this game either, but anything that gets the gels off their damned iThingies is just fine with me.
Whelp, I suppose I had ought to go and see about packing. Or at least thinking about packing. Or possibly thinking about when it will be time to start thinking about packing. Or something. Meanwhile, you all know the drill: Decanter and walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is on the sideboard. Swill till your eyes bubble and I’ll be back later.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention that no, Daisy dog does not accompany us. Instead, she’s off this afternoon to a sort of free-range kennel we found. It’s a big farm of so many acres and they basically just let the dogs run around all day and bring ’em inside at night. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie. Woo Hoo!
♦ Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning. Thankee muchly for your recommendations. It only took me two months to get around to it. Procrastinate we much?
♦ Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more. I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.
♦ I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week. My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums. True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny. (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)
♦ I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year. I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited. [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.] We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.
♦ Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger). We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me. The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.
♦ Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening. I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows. Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.
Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in. Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me. Don’t you let it, either.
UPDATE: Done and done. Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care. And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich. FTW!