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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

Kinda gives me the shivers.

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



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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


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

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

Speaking of which…..

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

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

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

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

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

Heh.  That’s my gel.

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


ba475a518dc890f443adffe0a9606972Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This afternoon came nooz that the campaign to save Sweet Briar College has achieved final victory with flying colors (pink and green, of course):

Supporters of Sweet Briar College will make their third and final payment — the result of a settlement deal to keep the private school open — on Wednesday, with a little extra thrown in for good measure.

When the then-president of the women’s college announced in March that the school would shut down forever this summer because of financial problems, shocked alumnae and others quickly began a fight to stop the closure. Saving Sweet Briar raised millions in pledged donations, and this summer a judge approved a settlement to keep the Virginia college operating.

According to the terms of the deal, a final $3.5 million payment, the last of $12 million agreed upon, was due Wednesday. But with the school year just beginning, with a new president and board in place and students in classrooms, the group was able to turn pledges into real cash.

The final tally of donations will not be known until Wednesday, but a spokesman for the group said it has already exceeded $3.5 million.

“We made the first two payments ahead of schedule and will exceed the amount due for the third and final payment,” said Mary Pope Hutson, Chair of the Major Donor Task Force for Saving Sweet Briar, Inc, in a statement. “The fight to take back Sweet Briar College will be complete at Noon tomorrow.”

She called on Sweet Briar supporters to celebrate Wednesday. “At 12 Noon EST, ring a bell if you have one, and let’s show the world our colors—a sea of pink and green! And please share our story of tenacity and determination.”

I am still in awe at the Vixen Power (including that exerted by Mrs. Robbo, a dedicated alumna) which caused all this to happen and confess that when the Resistance first formed immediately after nooz of the proposed closure broke, I really thought it was a long-shot at best.

Well done, indeed.

Eldest Gel will be applying early decision this fall.  Her grades are okay and she did pretty well on the ACTs.  Plus she is a legacy a couple times over and it’s definitely going to be a seller’s market, what with the school’s immediate goal of dramatically boosting its student body.  In her interviews, they’ve basically told her that unless she does something spectacularly awful this first quarter of her senior year, she’s in.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As regular friends of the decanter may recall, ol’ Robbo has sometimes mentioned here that teh Eldest Gel is of the opinion that Freddy Mercury is teh greatest musickal talent ever to have lived. No, I really don’t know why, but I won’t argue about that here.

Instead, I will post a crossing of teh streams that very recently has come to my attention: Teh Shat and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.


Teh Gel might find this blasphemous.  Myself, I think it’s wunnerful.


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.




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