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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is loitering around over an extra cuppa coffeve this morning because he really doesn’t much feel like mowing the lawn. I think it has something to do with watching his beloved Nat’nals blow several perfectly good opportunities to win against the Cubbies last evening and turn the game into a humiliating blowout defeat.  I’m getting close to panic-mode with this team. I really am.

And speaking of panic, did you see where the UK Guardian has decided it needs to turn the volume up to eleven on its “climate change” reporting rhetoric?

The Guardian has updated its official style guide to more “accurately” address the seriousness of climate change, the British publication announced Friday.

In an article explaining the decision to readers, environment editor Damian Carrington said Guardian reporters will hereby be advised to use “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” instead of “climate change,” “global heating” instead of “global warming,” and people who used to be described as “climate skeptics” will now be branded “climate science deniers.”

“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner said in a statement. “The phrase ‘climate change,’ for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.

Orwell smiles.  Control the language and you control the debate.  Note particularly how skepticism, which is supposed to be the bedrock principle of scientific inquiry, is mutated into anti-science wrong-think.

Well, call Ol’ Robbo a knuckle-dragging troglodyte, but I’m sticking with my skepticism.  The simple fact of the matter is that nothing about the Earth is static and Ma Nature has been fiddling with the thermostat herself for time immemorial.  (Could Mankind have some kind of impact on all this? Maybe.  But I’m willing to bet it’s most likely round the margins.)  The other simple fact is that the “climate science” at issue here appears to be absolutely full of holes: bad data (the sets are too small and I’ve read horror stories about some of the collection methods), inconsistencies, frauds, hidden calculations, and (it’s all modelling anyway) failure to conform with actual events.

As I’ve said many times before, this whole biznay is about politicks, not science, and specifically globalist authoritarian politicks.  The devil with Mizz Viner and her  catastrophes for humanity.

Whelp, enough grumbling.  The cold, hard fact is that Ol’ Robbo’s lawn ain’t gonna mow itself, so I better get myself in gear and git her done.

UPDATE: Done and done.  And because we’re having our first real hot stretch of the year, Ol’ Robbo flipped on the porch ceiling fans and is relaxing with a tall glass of iced coffee.  Nectar of the Gods, as I’ve said here many times before.  The fastest way to Ol’ Robbo’s heart may be a glass of wine, but a glass of iced coffee on a hot, summah-like day will get you mighty far, too.

Oh, and as I was standing about on the driveway waiting for Mrs. R to stop fiddling with her phone and pull out so I could finish clearing off the clippings, I got to say in my best Duke voice, “Get goin’, sister!  We’re burnin’ daylight!”  She didn’t think it was s’damn funny, but my day is more or less complete now.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As the more lynx-eyed Friends of the Decanter may recollect, Ol’ Robbo’s employment unit is upping stakes and moving to a brand new building in just about two months now.

This week saw the selection of individual offices within our new space.  We’re up on a higher floor in our new digs, and there are only a certain number of window offices available, not nearly enough for our entire attorney crew.

The selection lottery was based on service seniority.  Ol’ Robbo was mildly surprised to see that I came second in the entire bunch.  I guess I have been around for a while!  (In fact, some day I’ll tell you all about it, one way or another.  I’m thinking along the lines of John Mortimer’s Rumpole as a model.)

I couldn’t participate in the selection process myself, owing to a bout of Bechuana Tummy***, so I asked my immediate supervisor to make my choice for me.  “Oh, a window office for sure, please, and on the west side of the building,” I said.

Why the west?  Well, because that’s where the weather comes from.  And Ol’ Robbo loves to watch the weather coming in.

Not that I’ll really see that much since we’ve got another equally tall building right across the courtyard on that side, but I reckon I’ll be able to see enough overhead and round the corners.  Plus, I understand I get to graduate up to two computer screens now, so I’ll always be able to keep a Doppler loop radar open in a corner of one of them to coordinate with my observations.

If all this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


**Even though I may or may not be dressed as one.  Spot the *almost* quote.  Hint: It involves wood.

***Spot the reference.  I actually picked up a nasty chill/fever on Monday and there’s something going about, but I couldn’t resist plugging it in because I enjoy it so much.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a quarter of unconnected thoughts to start the week?

Firstest:  Despite the fact that it was cold and rainy in Your Nation’s Capital today, Ol’ Robbo went out for his usual lunchtime walk round the National Mall.  And as I trudged along, I was accosted by a nice-looking young woman -evidently from her accent a tourist from either the Caribbean or Africa – who wanted to know where the “Mall” was.  When I swept my arms around and said, “This is it”, she got a dumbfounded look on her face which I immediately knew meant she had been expecting a shopping mall.  This very same thing happened to me a year or two ago and at that time I was too surprised to respond tactfully.  This time, however, I kept my wits and said, “No, there aren’t any regular stores, but all the museums have nice gift shops.”  She seemed pleased.

Also, as I rounded the reflecting pool in front of the Grant Memorial, I noticed the air was full of swallows buzzing back and forth over the water in search of flying yummies.  I always love seeing this, as I also do the new hatches of Mallard chicks paddling to and fro across the pool’s surface.  Alas, this is my last spring to indulge this before my office moves away.  Gonna miss it.

Segundo:  Ol’ Robbo is very pleased that the two Elder Gels have gainful and interesting employment this summah.  Eldest started today working at Wolf Trap – she’s helping with set-up at first and will work concessions once the season starts –  and seems quite excited.  This sort of thing is right up her alley, combining the Arts with Hospitality (to which she’s always been drawn), and the more I ponder it, the more I wonder if this summah might not lay the ground-work for a future employment track.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, MIddle Gel is in the midst of an intense May-mester stats course, but when she’s done she intends to stay down in the Tidewater working for a dive-outfitter.  (She fell in love with scuba this year.  Also, boyfriend is down there.)  She’ll get paid to work in the store, but she also has a three-year internship for which she doesn’t get paid, but gets her dive-certification fees (which are hefty, so I gather) waived.  (As part of this, she’ll be going down to the Keys at some point this summah to help the outfitter conduct a dive for some clients.)  When she’s done, as I understand it, she will have gained her professional dive certificate, which she plans to parlay into graduate work and an eventual career possibly in marine biology.  (This is not a far-fetched idea at all.  Sistah’s hubby is in the field and is very enthusiastic about the opportunities for bright young ladies coming up.)

We’re not requiring Youngest to get a steady job this year, as she’s got a month’s worth of Bible Thumper Camp plus the college tour.  She herself said just yesterday, however, that she really needs to earn some money.  Musick to Ol’ Robbo’s ears.  I suggested she go with babysitting: Not only is it flexible, a responsible kid in these parts can make a killing in sweet, sweet, non-reportable cash payments.

Trois:  Regular Friends of the Decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo’s mention of his genealogy-obsessed cousin who regularly offers up new and intriguing bits of family lore?  (I believe the last time I mentioned her here was in connection with her news that one branch of the Family had been present on the Virginny Frontier in Colonial times and had suffered losses in Shawnee attacks on Kerr’s Creek in 1759 and 1763.)  Well, she’s at it again.  While in town this past weekend to go out with Mrs. Robbo, she informed me that she had definitely established our direct family tree in the neighborhood of Carlisle, PA, then very much the frontier, in 1763.  “Gawd,” I said, “I hope they weren’t mixed up with the Paxton Boys!” She’s enough of a history nerd that she laughed at the reference.  But I’m not so sure it wasn’t a possibility.

The Fourth Thing:  Well, Ol’ Robbo is off to watch “Bend of the River” which turned up today in his Netflix queue.  It’s not the best of the Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart westerns:  “Winchester ’73” takes that honor.  And why?  Because in the latter, Jimmah is driven by righteous anger to hunt down the no-good brother who murdered their father.  That I can accept completely.  But in the former, Jimmah plays an ex-Border Raider under Quantrill seeking redemption for his past wickedness by doing right.  Jimmah? A cut-throat hooligan? G’wan with ya!  I just don’t buy it.  But I like the film anyway.

Oh, and a Bonus:  At least Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats can’t lose today, seeing as they aren’t playing.  Sheesh. 


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s actually still Friday, but it’s also Ol’ Robbo’s day off.  So rather than frowsting all morning, I decided to haul my carcass out of bed early and go take care of mowing and trimming the stately grounds of Port Swiller Manor before this weekend’s expected rains set in.  Mission accomplished.

(Speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo recently saw an article proclaiming that Lawns Are Eeeeevil and Must Die! Die! Die!  What the author actually means, of course, is that middle-class suburbanites are evil and must die, die, die, only xhe’s going about it incrementally here.  Sod off, Swampy.)

So does this mean that Robbo gets to sleep in tomorrow morning? Oh, ha, ha, ha!! Think that raspberry bed is going to clean and weed itself? Not bloody likely!

In the meantime, lynx-eyed Friends of the Decanter may recall two weeks ago that I mentioned possibly posting some pictures when my peonies started blooming?  Well, I do.  And so as I made my way round the yard today, I took my phone camera along with me:

Peonies first.  I bought a number of specimens years ago from some local hippy nursery via the Innertoobs.  I can’t remember the name of the nursery, nor was I clever enough to save the varietal information about my purchases (I was young and foolish in those days), so I can only show them to you and not offer any meaningful identification.

Here’s one.  Of the various strains of peony, Ol’ Robbo much prefers the “single-flower” type as being the cleanest and most elegant.

Here’s another, perhaps my favorite because it’s so very, very delicate-looking.  Somehow it always makes me think of the Moon:

Here’s a third.  Note this variety has the sort of pom-pom thing in the middle.  I believe this is an example of what’s either a semi-double or a bomb flower.

I’ve another couple of specimens that were originally a single plant which I discovered hiding in the raspberries when we first moved in, dug up, and separated.  They’ll open in the next few days and are a deep rich pink double-flower.  Rather too showy for me, but if you float a couple of them in a glass bowl full of water, it makes a very nice table centerpiece.

As I mentioned previously, it is, in fact, high time that I dug up all of these plants and separated out their roots.  Come next year, I’m going to have a heck of a lot of specimens.  Anybody in the neighborhood want one? I’d be happy to share!

Also, while at it, I snapped a couple of roses.  This first came from my parents’ place up ta Maine.  (Again, I’ve lost the varietal information.)  I brought it down years ago.  It gets cranky in the hot Virginny summah, but is happy enough at this time of year.

Second, this is the Double-Knockout that I transferred from porch pot to garden bed two falls ago.  It’ll go on doing this all summah with very, very little maintenance, which is why I like it so much.

I have a second D-K from last year which is just a bit behind this one, plus two other unknown specimens also from Maine that haven’t opened yet.

And while I’m at it, here’s this year’s D-K installment (it’s become my accustomed Mother’s Day present to Mrs. R) nestled into its pot at the top of the porch stairs under the wisteria.  (I don’t even take it out of the container it came in, just stick it on in.)  Again, it’ll keep serving up buds all summah long.

So there you have it.

The next likely bloom arrivals will be a climbing tea-rose I have out front and various clematis scattered about.  I’d be happy to post pics of them, too, if anybody’s interested.

UPDATE:  Raspberry Bed Status: Reformed.  That I even got around to cleaning it out at all this year means that I’m way ahead of the game.  Which is a nice feeling, especially as I don’t get it very often.






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Unlike Arthur Dent, Ol’ Robbo generally is quite fond of Thursdays.  (If Douglas Adams had set the demolition of Earth on a Tuesday instead, I would have been much more in sympathy.)

Today proved an exception, however, as I got caught good and hard in the backup from an accident on the Gee-Dub, and literally wound up taking two and a half hours to  make the trip from Port Swiller Manor to my office this morning.  The bulk of this involved standing absolutely stock-still on the Parkway for about an hour and a half.

Fortunately, Ol’ Robbo is blessed with a keen sense of humor and a quick eye for the absurd.  As time wore on, I amused myself in part by noting the steadily-increasing stream of guys who got out of their cars and scuttling into the woods for a quick pit-stop.  (How the ladies afflicted with the same urge coped, I can’t imagine.  In this, we fellahs definitely have the advantage.  A “biological conspiracy” as I saw somebody put it once.)

Perhaps more fortunately, Ol’ Robbo typically doesn’t have his first cup of cofevve until after he gets to work, so I was able view the scene in relative serenity.  I readily admit that, had I been in the same boat, I doubt if I’d have found it s’damn funny.  (I wouldn’t have jumped out myself.  Not because I have any objections to a bit of au natural relief, but because of the neurotic fear that traffic would have broken up while I was away and everyone would have honked and yelled at me until I got moving again.)

It turned out, by the bye, that some yo-yo had careened off the road and slammed into a tree, why I do not know.  The car was gone by the time I passed the accident site, but you could see the spot fairly high up the trunk where the car had hit, and the whole area was blackened because it had also caught fire.  The only nooz report I can find claims that no injuries were reported, but that doesn’t quite mesh with the fact that no fewer than three ambulances picked their way through the backup and passed me as we sat there.  (Obviously, my observations were irrelevant.  If the Press tells us there were no injuries, then there were no injuries!)

Anyhoo, enough to throw anybody’s day out of kilter, I think.

Ah, well.  As I’ve said before, if you’re going to get stuck somewhere on your commute, at least the Gee-Dub is a pretty place.  It’s now just under six weeks before Ol’ Robbo’s office moves from its present downtown Dee Cee location to somewhere deep in tiger country northeast of Union Station and I have to go back to riding the Metro.  Ask me if I’m going to enjoy that.  [Narrator: He isn’t.]

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel arrived home earlier this evening after taking her last exams this morning.  As Middle Gel pointed out this afternoon while we were chatting, and as I hadn’t really thought about until then, this means Eldest is now a rising college senior.

Jumpin’ J. Jehospaphat!  How on earth could that possibly have happened?  Seems like just yesterday she was still in high school!

Middle Gel immediately asked me if this made me feel older.  At the moment I suppose I was still in shock because I said no.  Now that I’ve had time to think on it, however, yeah, yeah it does.

By the bye, I suppose this is as good a time as any to note for those of you who follow these things that Eldest is going back to Sweet Briar to finish up in the fall.  Long time friends of the decanter may recall that she transferred from there over to High Point this year.  I won’t go into all the whys and wherefores of her decision to return to SBC, but I’m awfully glad of it, as the standards of education are higher (as she herself admits), and the alumnae network is absolutely unbeatable in helping her in her next steps, whatever they turn out to be.   She’ll finish as a history major with a musical theatre minor.

I think she’s going to have a very, very good senior year.  God send that it doesn’t go by too quickly!

But of course it will.

Next spring, we’ll actually have not one but two graduations to deal with, as Youngest will be finishing up high school as well.  As I told Middle, that’s the one that really is going to make me feel the flow of time because she’s the back marker.  Heck, it seems like just yesterday that she was sitting in her high chair, smearing spaghetti sauce all over her face!

Oh, and speaking of the flow of time, the Puppy-Blender posted a FacePlant flashback featuring a remoulade recipe from Karl Bock, aka “Chef Mojo”.  I never met Chef in person, although he was a regular commenter over at the old Llama Butchers and sometimes also in the earlies here before his health went south.  But his mother and I are long-time friends in meat space.  It was nice to see this reminder turn up.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, but my Muse is absolutely, stonily silent this evening.  Several ideas have popped into the Robbo braims, including thoughts on radical environmentalist headlines this week and their relationship to Gnosticism; the end last evening of Youngest’s school softball season; and today’s birthday anniversary of Johannes Brahms.  Try as I might to woo her assistance, however, she’s just not having anything to do with translating them into coherent posts.  (Hell, it’s taken me twenty minutes to suss out just this paragraph!)

Blame pollen, I guess.

I suppose I’ll go and see what new ways my beloved Nationals can find to lose ball games.  That’ll free up my tongue, probably, although not in ways suitable to a family blog.








Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is sitting on the back porch this dank morning, enjoying an early cup of cofeve and contemplating the day’s chores.  The grass has reached the stage where it really could stand to be cut twice a week, it’s growing so fast, so skipping even the once a week cut is not an option.  Alas, it rained last night (indeed, it’s still sort of drizzling now), so this is going to be an irksome job today.

Ol’ Robbo’s push mower has an optional rear-mounted clippings bag.  I never use the thing because you have to stop about every five minutes to empty it, but instead am content to just let the clippings mulch back into the turf.  This works fine most of the time, but when it’s wet out like this I have to stop about every five minutes anyway in order to dig all the clippings out of the blade well where they’ve got all jammed up.  Most annoying.  (I’m also convinced that one of these days I’m going to slip and fall and accidentally shiv myself with the weed-sticker I keep in my back pocket for this purpose.)

Speaking of mower blades, in true middle-aged fashion my brother and I got talking about them when he and his family were here for Easter. It turns out he has a rather elaborate system of switching out his – while one is in use, the other is off being re-sharpened.  I gather he switches them fairly frequently, too.  I’ve never done this in my life, and my immediate thought was that it would be a waste of money.  Am I, in my ignorance, violating some provision of the Guy Code here?  I can’t say I’ve noticed anything particularly wrong with the cut I get but now I’m starting to feel a bit paranoid.

Well, enough of both rambling and cofeve.  As the Constable of France says to his colleagues in Act III of Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt, “Now is the time to arm.  Come, shall we about it?”


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt such a group as you friends of the decanter will be heartened by this story: Beer, Wine, and Chocolate Are Key to Living a Long Life, Study Says.

Working with more than 68,000 participants, [Warsaw University’s Professor Joanna] Kaluza and a team of scientists found that those with diets rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as beer, wine, and chocolate, which have anti-inflammatory properties, were up to 20 percent less likely to die prematurely [of heart disease and cancer] than those who ate a lot of red meat, sugary sodas, and processed foods.

“It is known that fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, beer, and chocolate are rich in antioxidants,” Kaluza told Metro.

What would we do without studies?

As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo’s own diet cuts almost perfectly at right angles across these statements.  Coffee and wine are basically the alpha and omega of my dietary day.  On the other hand, I’m not really a beer drinker (it makes me feel bloaty), and I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever (so avoid both chocolate and soda).  Meanwhile, I am a dedicated carnivore, am mildly indifferent to fruits (except pineapple, which I loathe), and am very picky about vegetables (read: nothing beyond a green salad and an artichoke every now and again).  I dunno what “processed foods” actually means, but I suppose I eat some of them, too.   Result? So far into my now firmly middle age, neither my waistline nor my weight have changed very much since my college days, and although my doc has tsk-tsk’d at me about these dietary confessions, she’s never yet been able to pin specific medical consequences to them.   So there.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo has long suspected that the real allocation of overall health and longevity is, in fact, genetically-based.  Diet, exercise, mental well-being – in fact the whole concept embodied in the old tag mens sana in corpore sano – are important, of course, and can’t be ignored, but I suspect that their impact (beyond outright abusive behavior) is mostly at what one might call the margins:  If you’re pre-programmed to last somewhere between 75 and 85 years, attention to these things may land you at the top of that range, but it won’t really help you hit your century.  For contra-examples, consider these stories that turn up every now and again of somebody who smokes cigars prodigiously, knocks back whiskey every day, and lives to be 115.

Go figure.

At any rate, a glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender, from whom I lifted this story, although I actually find objectionable his oft-repeated enthusiasm for the notion of extending human life through Science!  Where he sees good in technological breakthroughs that could extend the average lifespan to 150 years or even preserve each of our “essences” indefinitely, all I see is the devil shouting at God, “Non serviam!”   We all die to this life, whether we like it or not.  Properly centered in Faith, we shouldn’t mind it.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify re that last bit that I am neither talking smack because I happen to be in good health at the moment nor am I suggesting cancers and other illnesses should not be fought vigorously.  God alone knows how I’ll react if and when I get that call from the doc’s assistant telling me I need to come in for a “talk”.  Instead, I’m objecting to the broader notion of significantly changing our natural parameters, or even outrunning Death altogether, through science and technology.  This includes everything from artificially growing “spare” parts to downloading our consciousness into some sort of computer bank to sticking our heads in jars a la “Futurama”.

Also, I meant to mention that J.R.R. Tolkien thought this idea important enough to touch on it in his writings.  In The Simarillion, Man’s natural death originally was called “the Gift of Eru ” but Morgoth, through lies and whispers, convinced Men it was an evil thing, so it became know as “the Curse of Eru”.  This served to diminish Men’s character and to estrange them from both Eru Himself and from the apparently immortal Elves.  Both the Kings of Numenor and then later (in the back story to The Lord of the Rings) those of Gondor became so obsessed with escaping it that they caused their own ruin.  Of course, Middle Earth, as Tolkien insisted, is not an allegory, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t weave his own worldview into it both in theme (as here) and specific actions. (It’s no coincidence, for example, that the Ring goes into the Fire on March 25.)

And speaking of Ol’ J.R.R., I understand there’s a new biopic coming out about him, but I also understand (at least from FacePlant sources) that it contains virtually no reference whatsoever to his deeply-held Catholic Faith.  How anyone could expect to truly understand his character formation and development without exploring that aspect of it, I simply can’t imagine.  Of course, the keyword in that sentence is “truly”, so there you go.  Unless somebody convinces me otherwise, I do not plan to see it.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Quasimodo Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo was particularly touched by today’s Collect (Old Calendar):

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa peregimus; haec, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus.

(Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, by Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits, and behavior.)

I had been thinking again about such things just this morning.  By the end of Lent and a rather heavy lode of fasts and abstinences he took on, Ol’ Robbo felt that he was getting the Holy Ghost’s signal quite a bit more clearly than he has for some time now. I fear that slipping back into my old routines (and I have to slip somewhat because I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely), it’ll start getting fuzzier again like the signal from my clock-radio, which you have to adjust just so if you expect to hear anything coherent, and which keeps going out of alignment all by itself.

Not that I’m expecting Bose-quality clarity, of course, but I don’t want to eat static.

And as it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday, the Padre gave a very good homily about the importance to Christian Faith of forgiving others which I wish I could get my siblings to hear.  It also hit home because they had a falling out when the Mothe died and haven’t spoken to each other since, and my understanding of the situation is that neither one is willing to budge until the other first admits that They Were Wrong.  I find the whole biznay to be petty and vindictive, not to mention anguishing, especially given that the Mothe’s will contained a codicil which specifically said “Don’t Fight!”  But so far nobody is paying much attention to my efforts at peace-making.  (Just have to keep trying, I suppose.)



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