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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel was telling me this evening about a classmate of hers in government who was having a hissy-fit today because some Congress-Critter referred to our “God-given rights”.

“They can’t say that!” the kid purportedly sputtered.  “That violates separation of Church and State! REEEEEEE!!!!

The Gel basically told her not to be a fool, but I gathered she did so more instinctually than rationally.

So I explained a little bit about the Founders’ understanding of individual rights being inherent to our nature as human beings, based on the Divine spark within us, and their further understanding that government is supposed to serve us, not the other way round.   I explained that the whole purpose of the Constitution is to set up a system of government that is functional in that purpose without undermining those rights.  I explained that once one gives up the idea that rights are both individual and inherent and concedes to a system wherein they are collective and doled out or taken away by the State, one has basically surrendered to tyranny, however dolled up in “The Public Good” rhetoric it might be.

Oh, and I also explained what the Establishment Clause actually means, that there is no “Separation” Clause, and why her friend is, in fact, a fool.

She got all this, and was also able to tie it in to her studies (she showed a real knowledge of the Amendment process, for example, and had intelligent things to say about Federalism), but I could see that I’m going to need to do some more ‘splainin’.  Being able to retail the history and mechanics of the system is all well and good.  But without understanding the underlying “why” of it, even a bright kid like the Gel is always in danger of skidding off into the pit.

On the other hand, being able to articulate a rational, historickally-informed position on these matters these days may be of little practical use to the Gel, since from what I can see the debate on this as well as on just about every other issue seems to be almost exclusively centered on “muh feels”.

Further, according to the New York Times and its “1619 And All That” Project, all of my points are completely illegitimate, the American system is morally null and void, and I am committing wrong think here.  So there is that.


** Spot the quote.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent about half an hour walking around in circles at the grocery store on the way home from Mass today looking for the “Uncrustables” Youngest Gel requested for her school lunches this week.  I’m here to tell you that, as much as I like my store as a rule, they have no notion of where to put these things.  One might expect them to be in the frozen breakfast food section.  Or perhaps with the frozen desserts.  Or maybe even in the freezer directly across the aisle from the peanut butter and associated jellies.

But in between the frozen burritos and mini-pizzas?  Where the heck is the logic or reason to that?  Even after I finally broke down and asked somebody which aisle they were in (much to my personal pain), I still didn’t notice them until I went back to the staffer and he personally walked me over and pointed them out.


Oh, and the punchline?  I noticed an unopened box of the things in the freezer when I got home and put the grocs away.  D’OH!

(Ol’ Robbo is being crankypants about this because the delay means it was too late for me to have a snack when I got home as I usually do (I don’t eat beforehand), and now I have to tough it out until dinner.  And get in a work-out.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel is taking the ACT this morning.  Dawdling over her breakfast (and her phone), she suddenly realized that the thing started at 8:00 AM, not 8:10 AM, and dashed out the door precipitously.  It’s now an hour later.  As she hasn’t yet returned in disgrace, I can only assume she made it to the test on time.

Ol’ Robbo has a neurosis about punctuality that amounts to the nearly fanatical.  My rule has always been that if you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, just go home.

So this sort of last-second scrambling drives me batty.  (If I’d been taking the test, ten minutes one way or another wouldn’t have mattered.  I’d probably have been sitting in the parking lot an hour early, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for somebody to unlock the building.  But that’s me, Mr. Vegas.)


UPDATE:  All was well.  She admitted to me afterward that on the way over she was worried she might have blown it.  Fortunately, the administrators were running late organizing themselves, so no problem.   Still…..grrrrr…..



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is home for the weekend after the conclusion of the opening three-week “mini-mester” at school.  She and Mrs. R are out having coffee at the moment.

Later, Mrs. R will be throwing herself in her car and heading down to Middle Gel’s school, where they’re having Parents Weekend.  Specifically, she’s going because the Gel’s sorority is having some kind of “parent pinning ceremony”.  She’s taking with her goody-bags for MG’s sorority big sister, her roommate, and a couple others.  Earlier this week, she also had cupcakes delivered to an initiation ceremony for the service club Eldest is in at her school.

Frankly, Ol’ Robbo thinks “parent-pinning” is silly.  I also think trying to relive college vicariously through one’s kids is a sure sign of the middle-aged crazies.

When I pointed these things out to Mrs. R, she hit me.

Can’t imagine why……..

UPDATE:  Eldest just sent me this announcement from her school –

God’s Holy Trousers.

Maybe this is just a setup:  List all these lefty talking points to draw attention, and then knock them out of the park one by one during the actual talk.  I certainly hope so.  Because otherwise, just damn.  (The Gel knows enough about Constitutional history to be able to knock them out herself, but there are an awful lot of jellyheads out there who don’t.)

UPDATE DEUX:  Eldest looked this fellah up and tells me he looks pretty conservative.  So it seems more likely that the “myths, misunderstandings, and mistakes” in the title refer to the idiot stuff in the body of the announcement, and that his talk will be an explanation of why.

Sorry to be so paranoid, but given what passes for “higher education” these days, it’s at least understandable.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you who may be wondering, Ol’ Robbo has been around this week but his Muse seems to have taken a late summah hols.  Hopefully, she’ll be back soon.

Of course, everybody is watching Hurricane Dorian.  They didn’t evacuate Middle Gel’s school down in the Tidewater this time around like they did for Florence last year, but classes are cancelled today.  Looks like they’ll get a goodish bit of rain and maybe some wind, but I’m not at all worried and am, in fact, happier that she’s just hunkering down instead of having to get on the highway and come home.  Up here in NoVA, I believe we’re on the very far outer edge of the affected area, but I guess we’ll get nothing more out of it than some cloud cover.

And speaking of soaking, I may or may not have mentioned here before that the Port Swiller Manor dishwasher is on the verge of giving up the appliance ghost.  (It must be close to twenty years old, as it was just about the first item we had to replace after we moved in here.)  Apart from the fact that several of the bars in the lower dish rack have rusted out, thereby necessitating limited and intelligent loading, the thing has simply lost a lot of its cleaning power.  One has to pre-treat the dishes so thoroughly before putting them in that it’s almost not worth bothering to load it at all.

I’ve explained this pre-treatment requirement to my nearest and dearest many, many times.

So imagine Ol’ Robbo’s state of mind when he opened up the dishwasher last evening only to discover a whole day’s worth of plates and bowls thoroughly caked over with the remains of the meals which they had held.  (Hint:  Think Dr. David Banner after reporter Mr. McGee has finally pushed him over the line.)  I’m generally a pretty laid-back, calm sort of fellah, but this was real green eyes and muscles-ripping-shirt-to-shreds time.

And yet, was my outburst of righteous anger met with humble acknowledgements of fault and contrition, along with hasty efforts to make amends?  Of course not.  Ol’ Dad is just a big meany, the brute.  And somehow or other I wound up unloading the dishes, hand-washing them, and reloading the thing myself.

You can’t win, sometimes.  You really can’t.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a few odds and ends from Meat-Space Robbo’s life?

♦  Went for my annual physical yesterday.  (Actually, it’s been two years since my last.)  I have a new doc, my long-time previous one having recently moved her practice too far away to be practical.  I think I like new doc, as she is no-nonsense and to the point, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, which is a pity.  Anyhoo, although pronouncing me generally fit, she’s putting me on BP meds.  Not that mine is outrageously high, but it’s at the high end of normal and, according to the EKG, is beginning to have an effect on Mr. Heart.  I’ve got no problem with this.  What I do have a problem with is her recommendation that I cut back on wine and coffee.  When she made it, I smiled diplomatically and kept my thoughts to myself (thoughts running along the lines of “Wine glass….coffeve mug….cold dead fingers…..”).

Oh, and she gently pointed out the arthritis in my knees, which is not exactly news to me.

(And no, she didn’t do that exam.  In this respect, it’s probably just as well that she’s so cold.  Prior doc was kinda hawt and quite friendly, and it was only Ol’ Robbo’s Guardian Angel who prevented him more than once from making some crack about flowers or buying breakfast.)

♦  I received this week a potential juror questionnaire from my County.  This is the first time I’ve ever come close to jury duty since I got a notice about it 30-odd years ago.  (As I was in college in Connecticut at the time and the notice emanated from my home in Bexar County, Texas, I simply ignored it.)  This time I figure I’ll dodge it because the Great Commonwealth of Virginny has a statutory claim for exemption based on active bar membership and legal practice.  (No trial lawyer in his right mind would want another lawyer empaneled on a jury anyway.)  I duly checked the relevant box and sent the questionnaire back and don’t expect to hear any more about it.

Not that I’m active in Virginny anymore, mind you.  I passed the bar here in 1991 and maintained active status until I went to work for Uncle back in 2004.  Then I went inactive because Virginny requires annual CLE credits (which DC, where I’ve been active since the mid 90’s, does not), and Uncle won’t pay for them.  That I keep my membership in the Commonwealth’s bar at all (and hoik up the corresponding annual dues) is a matter of self-respect.  This way, I can still maintain the position that I’m a Virginny lawyer who happens to be practicing in Your Nation’s Capital, instead of a full-blown denizen of the Swamp, the last thing I ever imagined I’d be growing up.

♦  Recently, Ol’ Robbo has noticed a tendency in Youngest Gel to get half-way through a substantive sentence and then suddenly cut it off with, “Like…….yeah.”  Is this a thing among the Young People?  Once I became aware of it, it took on the status of an ear-worm and now drives me crazy every time I hear it.  Not that I’m not fighting back, mind you:  “Finish the thought.  FINISH THE THOUGHT!” is now my response of choice.

Kids today.  They’re young.

Well that’s all the news from Port Swiller Manor, where all the Mrs. R’s are strong, all the Robbos are good-looking (not!), and all the Gels are above average……..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, Youngest started her senior year of high school today.

Mrs. R had to flag her down in the driveway because she’d forgotten to take a fistful of forms with her.

It was only after she’d beetled off that we discovered she’d also forgotten her wallet.

I hope this isn’t some kind of omen…..

UPDATE:  First Day in the can.  Just from conversations I’ve had with her in the past day or two, the Gel is already developing the thousand yard stare: She’s quite done with the “high school experience”, is not much interested in all the senior year hoopla, and can’t wait to clear out and head for college.  I couldn’t tell you how much of this might be attributable to the fact that she’s got two sisters blazing the trail in front of her, how much is her general disdain for teenage immaturity, and how much is pure wanderlust looking for a new adventure.  (She was telling me this evening about a group of her classmates who decorated their cars with “Seniors ’20” type slogans for the occasion.  She didn’t think much of them.)  Perhaps it’s some combination of them all, perhaps there are other elements, too.

And speaking of which, poor Mrs. Robbo seems to be experiencing what one might call anticipatory empty-nest syndrome.  It has been noted that lately she is turning up her long-distance fussing over the Elder Gels and her in-person fussing over the Youngest to eleven.  (Fortunately, they all seem to understand and to take it in stride tolerantly.)  I have to believe that this is probably more of a Mom Thing than a Dad Thing, since I certainly am sobered by their growing up and moving out but I find myself far more excited/concerned about the future than about the past.

As for that need for nurture?  Well, that’s why we have Decanter Dog.

(Yes, you may hiss at me.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today was Robbo’s work-from-home day and what a delightful one (to me) it turned out to be: cool and rainy and more like early October than late August.  My thermometer dropped down into the high 60’s late in the morning and hasn’t budged since.  Ol’ Robbo set up his work station out on the porch and even after a couple cups of kawfee was chilled enough to go get a sweatshirt.

I’ll take this kind of weather any day.

And since I know all you friends of the decanter are just itching to ask the question, no, I didn’t have a deviled ham sammich for lunch today, it being Friday and all.  Instead, I had a simple little toasted cheese snack that I like to make:  Take English muffin halves and place on a baking sheet.  Put a pat of butter on each and top off with liberal sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.  Broil on high until muffins are toasted to taste, the butter having melted and helped to distribute the cheese more evenly.  Mrs. Robbo objects to this snack because she hates the smell of the cheese toasting, but I rather like it.  Fortunately, she was away at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method getting her classroom ready for the start of school, so I was able to feast in peace.

And now…..the weekend!

UPDATE:  As Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals had a day game this afternoon (in which they thumped the Cubbies in fine style), I went back to my movie horde this evening for a little entertainment.

As I had mentioned somewhere or other recently, Eldest had recommended I give “The Brothers Grimm” a try because she knows I’m a fan of (some**) Terry Gilliam movies.  I had tossed it in my Netflix queue and jumped it to the front in the hope that we could watch it together before she went back to school.  Well, that didn’t work out.  And perhaps it was just as well.  I got through about 20 minutes of the thing before I gave up in disgust.  I can’t really articulate why I found no sympathy for it, it simply didn’t click for me.

Instead, I found that TCM is doing a Fred and Ginger marathon today, so I watched “Top Hat“, a movie I haven’t seen in donkeys’ years.  Good Lawd Almighty, was that man light on his feet!  (And a strident perfectionist.  Somewhere or other, I recall reading that he once said to Ginger Rogers in their early days, “Don’t be nervous.  But don’t screw up.”)  Anyhoo, it was pleasant to watch again, even if it is pure mid-30’s over-the-top spectacle.

So an evening’s entertainment salvaged.


** “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” is one of my very favorite films.  I first saw it in a theatre with a young lady who was far more interested in me than in what was on the screen. (Shut up! It happened sometimes back in the day!)   I still feel rather a cad in that I was so captivated by the movie that I, er, declined her alternate entertainment suggestions.  “Time Bandits” is another favorite because it’s both goofy and weird.  “Brazil” I appreciate rather than enjoy, and I only watch it when in the darkest throes of cynicism.  (Why the hell would a hard leftie like Gilliam make such a dystopian flick and not understand that what he believes in leads exactly and invariably to that?)  Also, I will here again recommend “Lost In La Mancha” which is a “behind the scenes” extra which turned into a documentary on Gilliam’s failed attempt to do a Don Quixote movie.  A fascinating piece on the travails of film-making.

The rest of his stuff you can keep.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sometimes the days are random.  Sometimes they’re really random.  I think today goes in the latter class.

♦  Holla! Holla! Watch – Eldest Gel went back to Sweet Briar to start her senior year this morning.  Mrs. R went as well, in part to carry overflow junk in a second car, in part because both of them have been invited to take part in a legacy-recruitment project and the dean of students wanted to have dinner with them.  I think the Gel’s going to have a most-productive year.  And here’s a fun fact for you:  With her move-in today, Eldest is now rooming on the same side of the same hallway of the same dorm as did both Mrs. Robbo and my Sistah (albeit, not at the same time).  I think that’s pretty neat.

♦  Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo had to take Youngest to an oral surgeon for a consultation about having all her wisdom teeth yanked.  We sat in that office for a total of something close to two hours, while the consultation itself took all of five minutes (and was pretty durn expensive, too).  The coming en-yankening is not something I envy her.

♦  Speaking of Youngest, I was surprised to learn today (when it was delivered) that she’d gone out and bought herself a Study Bible.  Apparently, her recent return to our Christian Sports Camp (where she’s applying to be a counselor-in-training next year) really had an effect on her, as she told me today she’s never felt so close to God before.  She plans on doing Young Life at school this year, too.  Go figure.

Not that I’m complaining at all, at all, mind.

♦  And speaking of deliveries, we got a notice today from our homeowner’s insurance carrier that they’re dropping our coverage in a couple months.  They explained that it’s nothing we’ve done, they’re just getting out of the private residential market.  Very strange.  So I suppose I’ll need to shop around now.  We’ve carried our cars with USAA for forever, and I’ve often mused about consolidating homeowner’s coverage with them as well.  This may prove an opportunity.  Of course, any tips or recommendations would be appreciated.

Well, that’s enough.  I suppose I should go see about some din-dins, and then make up my mind whether I want to watch “Casablanca” or “The Brothers Grimm” (which I’ve never seen) this evening.  (Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are playing the Bucs, but there are so many storms in the area this evening the game is likely to get spooled out over many hours and I need my beauty rest.)  “Grimm” was recommended to me by Eldest because she knows of my fondness for Terry Gilliam movies and ones with Jonathan Pryce in them in particular.  If I watch it, I’ll let you know what I think.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The current iteration of the Family Robbo does not generally have dinner together throughout the week the way we did in my misspent yoot, but we do manage to foregather pretty consistently on Sundays.

This evening was a sort of send-off for Eldest, who goes back to school Tuesday.

We talked about Homer.  (Eldest has to read some new feminist translation of the Odyssey and is not enjoying the manipulation.)  We talked about Dante.  (A lively game of “Which Circle of Hell Do You Belong In” was instigated by Youngest.)  We compared 1984 with Lord of the Flies in terms of suitable middle school reading.  (This in the general context of whether it is better to expose yoot prematurely to literature they won’t understand or to risk their never being exposed to it at all.  Shakespeare got mixed up in this discussion, too.)  Somehow or other, we even talked about pernicious and politically-driven enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.  (Mrs. R still endearingly believes that said Act was promulgated and is enforced for purely altruistic reasons, bless her heart.  It’s a curious thing that, although she has had so much more direct contact with the Gels over the years, they all seem to have adopted my own far more skeptical opinion of those who would seek to rule us.  (Yes, I work for Uncle.  But I also believe gubmint to be nothing more than a necessary evil.  Try living in my braim for a while.))

Anyhoo, the point of the matter is that I found myself quite full of pride regarding both the Gels’ scope of knowledge as well as their sensibilities.  (Middle Gel, who is already back at school, would have gone toe-to-toe here.)

Good times.  Good times.

No doubt Ol’ Robbo has made many, many mistakes regarding his progeny.  But the one thing I’m sure of, and the one thing for which I take at least some credit, is that they’re not fools.



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