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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
A conversation from this morning:
Self: What on earth are you doing up at 6:30 am on a Saturday?
Youngest Gel: Dad, it’s Friday.
Dang extended weekends. I’m getting old and confused.
Anyhoo, the big nooz last evening was that Youngest made her school swim team. She just made the cut time and apparently the coach likes her attitude and enthusiasm.
I must say that I’m quite proud, particularly because I had nothing to do with this. The Gel had swum for our pool club team for a number of years but then dropped out this past summah. A couple months ago, however, she decided that she really wanted to get on the school team, so she started training again (she’d worked with this program in the past, but stopped after swimming head-first into the wall and suffering a concussion), and now here we are, all because of her own efforts.
Think she’s pleased? She spent all last evening walking around saying, “That’s right….Youngest Port Swiller, varsity athlete – believe it, baybee!” (There’s no freshman or jayvee team at her school. You’re either in the Show or you’re not.)
I expect a major outlay in purchases of sweatshirts, t-shirts, window decals, and the like, but so what. If she’s on the team, working hard, and pulling her weight, let her have her fun. (Ain’t ol’ Robbo getting indulgent in his old age?)
She also mentioned the benefits to her resume. “Do you think I could wind up swimming for UVA?” she asked me.
“Well,” I said, “competition to get into UVA from around here is wicked fierce. Yes, you almost absolutely need a varsity sport, so this is an excellent start. But you also need a GPA of about eleventy-billion and a Nobel Prize in astro-physics, so get cracking on those books, too.”
I think that gave her some food for thought.
Since the gel’s only a freshman and is at the tail of the team, I don’t know how many meets she might actually make this year. Frankly, the fewer the better, at least from my standpoint: Swim meets are amongst the dreariest and most boring of all sports events, at least from the parental point of view – hours of sitting around on cold, hard benches just to see your kid in the drink for about 30 seconds at a go. (That is, of course, unless your wife has secretly volunteered you to man a shift at the snack bar. Then it’s even worse.)
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo doesn’t get out very much, in part because it gets expensive very quickly and in part because, once I’m done shlepping down to the shop and back every day, I’d really rayther stay home of an evening.
This weekend, therefore, was quite out of the ordinary.
First, as mentioned in the weirdo post immediately below, Friday evening saw the Family Robbo trek down to Nats Park to watch our beloved Nats take on the Fish. We got there around 5:30 pm. The game was supposed to start at 7 pm. It didn’t actually start until 8:50 pm. Here’s what ol’ Robbo had to look at during the wait:
So why stay, you may ask? After all, the Division Title was already locked up, the shakiest starter in the rotation was pitching (he actually lasted about 2 innings), and it was cold and rainy. (Indeed, it never really stopped raining all evening.)
Well, I’ll tell you. For one thing, Eldest Gel was home visiting from school and really wanted to go. For another (related) thing, it’s rare that all of us do anything together as a group now that the gels are growing up. For a third, I hadn’t been to an actual game all year. And fourth? Look again at the pic. We had bought seats in the upper deck, but the Gods of the Ticket Office decided to smile upon us and upgraded us to about 20 rows behind 1st Base.
I couldn’t pass that up.
Last evening, in turn, the Middle Gel and I went down the Kennedy Center to catch their production of Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro.
Curiously enough, while I have heard the piece many, many times, owning 2 CD versions and a pretty good DVD recording of it as well, I’d never seen it performed live before. Go figure. Anyhoo, we had a thoroughly delightful time. It was well staged, most of the singers did very well and were obviously having fun, and the orchestra was good, too.
However, get a load of where we wound up sitting.
Yep, the Bob Uecker Front Row. We’re talking real nose-bleeders here. Indeed, we weren’t even sitting in one of the affixed rows, but in a couple chairs brought in at the very back. (Thus the wages of putting off to the last minute trying to get tickets to a very popular production. On the other hand, I was able to slip off my loafers without anyone noticing.)
All I can say is that even though we eventually started to succumb to altitude sickness, we could hear and see well enough. I also found myself musing that this was just about the position we would have been in the night before if our ballpark seats hadn’t been changed.
Anyhoo, ol’ Robbo didn’t make it to bed until past one ack emma on either night, so I am in something pretty close to zombie mode now. Which is another reason why I don’t much care for the night life.
In these cases, tho’, I think it was worth it.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’Robbo spent the bulk of today traveling to and from the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania, there retrieving the Middle Gel from camp. (She and the Youngest did their usual term earlier in the summah, but she had gone back for a second term to work on the kitchen crew.)
As I tooled along I-70, something occurred to me: Back in the day, the standard was “slower traffic keep right” and the general rule was “lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. Oh, sure, there were those who ignored this, but at least it was the expectation.
Not so much, anymore. People seem to float all over the lot, driving at any damned speed and oblivious of all around them.
What happened? Were these old-fashioned, common sense measures suddenly deemed “speedist”? The outworn privilege of an acceleration-centric patriarchy? Is it now a thought crime not to respect whatever speed the other driver now identifies with? Am I just a hater?
I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
As I mentioned immediately below, Mrs. R spent the day yesterday running the younger gels up to their summah camp, carpooling with a friend of ours and her son. It was only upon her return to Port Swiller Manor rayther late in the evening that I learned the party had got somewhat lost on the way there.
“How on earth did that happen?” I asked.
“Well,” said Mrs. R, “the GPS steered us to the wrong highway and then it took a while for us to realize it and get back going in the right direction.”
“Eh, whaaaa…..?” I said. “Never mind the fact that the camp directions specifically say not to rely on GPS to get there. We’ve been running the gels up to that camp and back for something better than eight years now. Do you mean to tell me that you still don’t know the way?”
“Well,” she said, “You know I’m not very good with directions.”
“But, but….,” I said, “amongst the five of you in the car, you must have made that trip fifty times in the aggregate. Are you telling me nobody knew how to get there?”
“Well, no,” she answered.
At this there was much eye-rolling and hair-pulling by your host. Jesus. Mary. Joseph. Ol’ Robbo is a complete shark for geography, directions and what might be summed up as general self-orientation/awareness and it absolutely flabbergasts me that the people around me can be so…. cavalier about such things and also so increasingly dependent on technology to tell them where to go. Regular friends of the decanter will know that I speak the truth when I say that I have been on about this for years and years. As sure as Shire-talk, this is part of Skynet’s plan: condition people to become utterly dependent on their GPS systems and then, on Judgement Day, steer them straight into pre-arranged ambushes.
Do not tell me I didn’t warn you.
I also mentioned in the post below that teh Eldest Gel and a friend took a jaunt down to King’s Dominion yesterday. Apparently head-swollen by her successful completion of this trip, she announced today that she wished to drive down by herself to Virginia Beach this coming weekend in order to meet up with her godmother and attend some sort of Sweet Briar College celebratory do.
Mrs. R hemmed and hawed about it, but when I learned of said Eldest’s plan, my one-word response was NYET!
Honest to God: A 17 year old novice driver trying to negotiate the worst beach traffic in the Mid-Atlanatic alone? I. Don’t. Think. So. Hell, I hate making that run and do everything I can to avoid it.
Teh Eldest and I spoke about the biznay this evening.
“Daughter,” I said, “You know I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do this. Period.”
“You mean you won’t let me do this, not that you can’t, DAD. You’re the lawyer, DAD. Be clear about your word choice, DAD.”
“Can’t, won’t. Whatever floats your boat. Bottom line is that it isn’t happening.”
“Hmmph!” she said, stalking off to her room, “You’re awful, DAD.”
“Yes,” I replied, “I’m a mean old man.”**
And there it ended.
As for battle honors, I knew based on her relatively token protest and her resorting to semantics that she knew I was right about this one. But really, it was a no-brainer.
**Spot the quote.
UPDATE: Sheesh, you guys! It’s Mal Reynolds from the pilot episode of “Firefly“:
Kaylee: [sounding weak, but cheery] Oh, don’t you worry none. Doc fixed me up… pretty. He’s nice.
Mal: Don’t go working too hard on that crush, mei-mei. Doc won’t be with us for long.
Kaylee: [big smile] You’re nice, too.
Mal: [smiles] No, I’m not. I’m a mean old man.
Now I know there are Browncoats among the friends of the decanter, because I’ve talked here before about the fact that Joss Whedon was a classmate of mine in college and how amazed I am that such a typical Hippy Progressive Fascist could have turned out such a Libertarian teevee show.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, on further reflection ol’ Robbo doesn’t have much to say about his beloved Nats’ elimination in teh first round of the playoffs. He could point out that each of our three losses to the Giants was by a single run and that two of them arguably were the direct result of rookie manager pitching decision mistakes (the first one questionable, the second one insane). He also could point out that the Nats had the best National League record during the regular season, and could argue that a team’s results over 162 games are far more demonstrative of its quality than said team’s results over any four games. But nobody would listen. All anybody cares about post-season (and, arguably, for any given season) is who advances and who goes home. At this point? I really don’t even care anymore, but am thinking ahead to what is likely to happen over the off-season and into next spring. (My prediction? Not much. LaRoche is likely done at 1st so that we can bring Ryan Zimmerman back into the starting lineup, Soriano is gone, but most of the rest of the team stays, I think, pretty much as it is. Oh, and I’m calling it Right Now: We win next year.)
Regular friends of the decanter will tolerate ol’ Robbo going through the math here because they understand that this is only the second post-season venture in his nearly 50 years in which he’s had a genuine vested interest. (I grew up in a non-baseball town and could never consider myself more than an interested sympathizer for any team until the Nats came to Dee Cee in ’05. How lucky are the Gels, by the bye, that they get to experience all of this in their yoot.) I must say that I find the experience…….bittersweet.
Anyhoo, it’s over and done and I now can turn my attention to other things, such as the fact that the Great Post-Flood Port Swiller Manor Basement Renovation of 2014 is almost complete! (A mere two months after the original disaster, but who’s counting?) Flooring (Pergo or its equivalent) went in yesterday, baseboards were tacked on today and now pretty much all that’s left is the bathroom fixtures and some wiring. In fact, the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his lovely family are coming in this weekend for an overnight stay and I had been fretting the past week or so about where on earth we were going to put them all. Thanks to this week’s work, the basement is now at least habitable. This gives ol’ Robbo a happy.
If you’d like me to post pics of the finished product, let me know. (I’ve never been able to decide whether that sort of thing is looked on favorably by readers or is considered showing away.)
Final observation: Last evening I watched Enemy at the Gates, the 2001 dramatization of the duel between a Russian and a German sniper (based somewhat, I believe, on “actual events”) during the Battle of Stalingrad, that I almost automatically think of as Saving Private Ivan. I’ve seen this movie maybe three or four times and still cannot quite put my finger on what makes it an okay flick but not really a good one (even though it features the lovely and talented Rachel Weisz, which fact alone ought to carry it).
One positive thing I forget each time and am delighted to rediscover is Bob Hoskins as Khrushchev. I love how he continually refers to Stalin as “duh Boss”. This is exactly right. Uncle Joe was as much as or even more of a thug than was Hitler. Appallingly, the typical Modern, to the extent they have even heard of WWII, thinks the Soviets and the Nazis were diametric opposites. The truth, of course, is the reverse. Fascism and Communism (and, I may add, Progressivism and, for that matter, the Mafia) are close cousins, all of which argue for the sacrifice of individual freedoms to the alter of collective, centralized authority and for the elimination of said individuals who either can’t or won’t comport with the Plan.
This reminds me that I’ve never read Solzhenitsyn but have been meaning to the past few years. Any friends of the decanter have any suggestions on the best place to start? Ol’ Robbo would appreciate such tips greatly. From what I gather, it’s not so much of a stretch to call the man a Saint. And yet, after all he’d been through under the Soviet regime and all the effort he had put forth to speak (if I may) Truth to Power, he is these days a hissing and a byword among those who claim to champion liberalism. (This is just one of the million and one reasons, or perhaps more accurately one of the million and one pieces of evidence of the general reason, why ol’ Robbo detests Leftists.)
Well, teh youngest gel’s softball team survived a scary-close, extra-innings semi-final game this evening to advance to the City Series Championship game on Wednesday.
(And as an aside, as I walked in from the parking lot, I spotted Adam LaRoche and his family. He has a couple of kids in our league. Rather than accosting him, I simply made eye-contact, smiled and went on about my biznay.)
Anyhoo, the team finished their regular season at 10-2, one game back of the division winners (who were eliminated this evening on an adjacent field). The gel has made something of a name for herself as a solid glove at 1st, although her chief delight is playing 3rd and gunning down runners. (The other day, with bases loaded, she fielded a grounder hit to her there. Everyone in the park thought she was going to step on the bag for the easy out, but she instead fired the ball to the catcher for the force at home. The run she saved proved important.)
As for ol’ Robbo, I’ve been acting this season as a sort of deputy assistant coach, helping out with practices, pre-game BP and warm-ups as I’m available, and sometimes coaching 1st. It’s a level of service with which I’m quite happy, as it allows me to be involved without saddling me with responsibilities I probably could not handle, given everything else going on.
Our record this season against the team we’re facing for the championship is 1-1, so I’ve an idea this is going to be an exciting game. Wish us luck!
UPDATE: Greetings again, my fellow port swillers! I’m happy to report that not only did our team win this evening, the gel proved to be one of the heroes of the game. Oh, you’d like details? Super, thanks for asking! Well, it was the bottom of the 3rd and we were up 6-4 with bases loaded. (The other team had scored all four of its runs in the top of the 3rd and looked like they were getting their mojo.) The gel came up to the plate and hit a screaming daisy-cutter right over the bag at third. All the base-runners came home and she boogied into second for a stand-up double, scoring herself a few minutes later. This effectively took the mickey out of the other team and we eventually finished them off 11-4. Ol’ Robbo is mighty proud tonight.
(Who? Go here.)
Teh youngest gel’s softball practices are on Tuesdays this spring. Ol’ Robbo serves as a kind of utility back-up coach this season, not having any official position but making himself useful where needed, both during practices and in games.
Anyhoo, this past Tuesday evening, we had as usual an intra-squad scrimmage. Because only nine or ten gels showed up for practice, this necessitated some coaches playing in the outfield. (At teh gel’s AAA level, the teaching emphasis is on infield execution, as the majority of hits among the 9-11 y.o. crowd tend not to travel far into the outfield.)
Playing center field, ol’ Robbo found himself squaring up against teh gel. She has really blossomed this spring on many different fronts, and in recent weeks has started to bear down much harder on her softball skills, which heretofore have been held hostage to what one might call the “Look – Squirrel!” frame of mind.
So, on a coach-pitched lob, teh gel smacked a long, hard shot into the left-center gap.
Ol’ Robbo is almost 50. He’s very much out of shape and is considerably out of practice when it comes to softball. Plus, he was still dressed in his work clothes. Nonetheless, because the ball hung up just enough, I managed to get a good jump and executed a nifty back-handed spear at full stretch as it came down.
Lord God forgive me, but I couldn’t help juuuuuust a little bit of taunting after I robbed teh gel of her hit.
I’m paying for it now with a set of lower back pains, but it was worth it. Right?
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here but ol’ Robbo has been dealing with a sinus infection off and on for the past few weeks, something that always seems to happen round about this time of year. I say “off and on” because the symptoms have waxed and wained, sometimes getting to the point where I think that yes, I probably ought to go see the doc, but then moderating again so as to encourage just toughing the thing out. (One of ol’ Robbo’s medical maxims is the avoidance of antibiotics unless and until they’re absolutely necessary, lest trivial dosings render them ineffective when they’re truly needed.)
The past couple days, the symptoms seem to be getting worse again. My sinus cavity feels as if it’s lined with several inches of lead, there’s a constant irritation at the back of my throat and I’ve been feeling generally run down, dizzy and beat.
I report all this not in an attempt to to garner cheap sympathy or to worry teh Mothe, but to lay the foundation so that friends of the decanter will understand the dread with which I faced the prospect of attending teh youngest gel’s recorder and choral concert at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method this evening. Nineteen 4th, 5th and 6th graders, of (shall we say) varying degrees of talent, playing about fifteen different tunes, from “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple” through some Mozart, some Stravinsky and a couple of Irish jigs to “Amazing Grace”, all tutti ensemble and maybe 20 feet from where I was sitting would have been a tall order even were I in perfect health.
So, pardon me a second while I close my weary eyes just remembering it.
Anyhoo, I did a bit o’ research this evening to try and discover who had the bright idea of championing the modern, plastic recorder as the grade-school musickal instrument of choice but, after a whole five minutes on the Innertoobs, drew a blank. The closest relevant information I could find came from the ‘recorder’ entry at “Simple English Wikipedia”, which seems to be a dumbed down version of Wiki prime. The relevant paragraphs:
Plastic recorders were invented in the 20th century. They are cheap and vary greatly in quality (that is often not related to the price) depending on the manufacturer. They are easy instruments to play simple music. Many elementary schools use plastic recorders to teach music to children.
The head joint of the recorder is used as a noise, rhythm and effect instrument, and as a toy musical instrument with children. Because the recorder head works like a whistle, it can be used as such. With a bit practice, it is easy to play all kind of rhythms. Effects are made by opening and covering the lower end of the head joint with the hand while blowing. Many players blow harder like “normal” recorder playing (like with a pea whistle), to get a very shrill and loud sound. Professor Agnes Dorwarth of the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg argues this is an attractive way to get children to play with part of the instrument, which can make playing the entire instrument more inviting.
Yeah. Whenever I’m subjected to this particular “shrill and loud sound”, I renew my resolve to track down the originator of the bright idea of mixing school kids with recorders and doing something to him or her with one or more of the latter quite unprintable on a family blog. If nobody else comes forward, Professor Dorwarth better not let me catch her alone in a dark alley.
At any rate, I survived. So I got that going for me.
Still, it’s slowly sinking in that after fourteen years (if my math is right) of having one or more of the gels at St. Marie, we are down to our final semester of student participation there (although Mrs. R will continue to teach and I’ve a feeling they won’t let me resign from the Board no matter how much I want to). Somehow, that makes these little events – however teeth-gritting they may be in themselves – all the more important in a symbolic sense, the back markers (as it were) of a particular stage of the life of the Family Robbo. Next year, teh youngest will go off to middle school, while her elder sisters will both be in high school with the eldest eyeing her collegiate options (prayers, please). This nostalgic reflection provides at least a bit of armor and is allowing ol’ Robbo to treat these things with something approaching good will. Why, I might even go so far as to attend the annual spring fair without becoming enraged by the inevitable clown’s refusal to confess, confess!, that wearing thick face paint, a heavy wig and a polyester suit while making balloon animals under a bright sun and in humid, 90 degree heat makes her happy-go-lucky air a complete put-on.
Lousy, rotten clowns…..
But that’s a topic for another post. In the meantime, as I say, as much discomfort as this evening’s concert caused on one level, on another I’m glad I went.
Well, this evening saw the first softball practice of the Robbo Family Spring 2014 little league softball season, with the youngest gel’s Triple-A squad assembling for their inaugural meeting down the local elementary school diamond. I expect the eldest gel’s senior squad will hold their first practice very shortly as well. As has been the case the past few years, I will be contributing my little bit to the cause by serving as an assistant coach on both gel’s teams.
Counting Fall Ball and the Spring Season separately, a quick calculation on ol’ Robbo’s fingers indicates that this is his 14th half-season of coaching and/or managing gels’ softball in some capacity or other. I must say that at this point I still know next to nothing about the job, either in terms of teaching technique or in terms of what they call personnel management. But give me a leader who knows what he or she is about, and I flatter myself that I’m a pretty decent second fiddle. With that role I am quite content.
Still, what I love most about the experience is just being out at the diamond. There’s just a certain feel about the grounds, the weather and the whole attitude that appeals to me. Also, I love the repeated marvel of watching twelve random gels starting a season not knowing each other or their coaches from Adam but gradually coalescing into a genuine “team”.
As for the youngest gel, she’s the oldest player on her team and is somewhat hacked that she didn’t make Majors this spring. I have pointed out to her that she has no right to make Majors, but has to earn it, and that her try-out performance a couple weeks ago was somewhat, ah, lackadaisical. Perhaps the lesson was learned, because she was throwing the ball around mighty crisp this evening. Let’s hope it continues.
Yes, ol’ Robbo skootched into teh voting booth with about 15 minutes to go this evening. I needn’t bother recounting which candidates on the ballots for general office in teh Great Commonwealth of Virginny I picked, I believe. Most regular friends of the decanter no doubt can figure things out easily enough. Nor need I acknowledge that I am likely to be disappointed in the gubernatorial results, even though Drudge is still teasing (as of shortly before 9 PM) that an upset might be in the works.
Actually, I made teh dash (and it was a dash, given the traffic I had to fight) for two basic reasons. For one, I felt I had to contribute at the top of the ballot: if my choice for governor was not going to cross the finish line first and was to lose to some loathsome, grifting slime bag, I was damned if it would be because of me. Also, were my preference to pull an upset, I would forever kick myself at not being in on it.
Second, because I have a far more personal interest in seeing my local delegate to teh Virginny House win re-election. She’s a fellow parishioner at my church and an all-around solid presence in teh local community. (Among other things, she’s heavily involved in our little league program and sponsored the youngest gel’s softball team a couple seasons ago.) It is widely supposed that she intends to take a shot at Congress when our long-time local rep decides to hang ’em up. So there’s all that. The fact that, for a woman in her mid-50’s, she’s very easy on the eyes plays absolutely no part in my consideration.
Anyhoo, I don’t know if this is a precinct-by-precinct thing or not, but for our polling place it was strictly paper ballots this evening. One colored in the little ovals on teh O-fficial form and then fed it into a big, black scanner box. Apart from a little counter window, there was no acknowledgement, no verification that the machine understood and accepted my selections.
Eh. I am not much of a conspiracy-theorist type by nature, my inclination being to believe that human fallibility and the tendency to blab render any but the smallest-scale operations impracticable. Still, as I shoved my ballot into the machine, I couldn’t help wondering…………
UPDATE: Well, I see my delegate won by 404 votes, so I like to think I did my part.