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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are off this evening,  so it looks like I’ll be dipping back into the Netflix queue.  Next up is “Bridge on the River Kwai”.  Heck of a long film, but I find that if you fast-forward through the bits where William Holden is standing around looking moody, the thing is more manageable.

In the meantime, I see that there has been some crowing and gnashing of teeth (depending on your point of view) over a Gallup poll out this week that purports to show that the country is shifting left on many moral issues.  The poll has been being conducted annually since 1999 and claims that this year, for the first time, social liberals and social conservatives are “at parity”.

Frankly, I don’t think I buy this.  On the one hand, I believe there’s no question that what I might call Left-libertinism has become more and more fashionable in recent years thanks to the cheerleading from the gub’mint, the academy, the MSM and Hollywood.  On the other, though, I can’t help wondering if the supposed decline in the number of people holding conservative social values isn’t really a decline in willingness to answer pollster questions about such values.  In an interview this week, Marco Rubio said that mainstream Christianity is on the verge of being tagged as “hate speech”.  Whether this is a correct assessment or not (and, FWIW, I think it is), my observation suggests that a good many people believe it and are simply clamming up.

Personally, I never answer polls or surveys, nor do I discuss moral or politickal issues with anyone outside my family or close, trusted friends.  Long-time friends of the decanter will know that, even in more-or-less bloggy anonymity, I have cut back steadily on commentary about such matters here since 2008, and that this place is nothing like the flesh-flying-out-the-windows-inconveniencing-the-passers-by air of the ol’ Llama Central before that.   That’s no accident.  Prudence, i.e., the protection of my family from harassment, calls for it.   On the other hand, I, of course, strive to keep the candle lit and on a candlestick to give light to all within Port Swiller Manor.  Eh, what can you do?

The punch line, to which I turn for comfort repeatedly, is that Truth is Truth no matter what fashion or the law says, and that it will prevail in the end.  You can’t take the sky from me.

Now, off to the movies….


DaisyGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Meet Daisy*.  Daisy is seven years old, purported to be a mix of golden retriever and spaniel.  You can see from this pic why this claim has some merit.  She’s about the size of a spaniel and has the ears.  At the same time, she also plainly has many golden qualities.  What you can’t see is that she has the big, feathery, golden paws and almost no tail to speak of, but both of these elements further affirming the proposition.

Now ol’ Robbo grew up with dogs and loves them, and it has been an ongoing lament of his that he has not had one as a pet since he left home for college some 32 years ago.  Of course, during school the idea was out of the question for fairly obvious reasons.  Post-educational acquisition was long out of the question too, however, in that Mrs. R had no doggie background and was little interested.  After long argument, I at last recently got her to agree, in principle, to maybe have a go at what we came to call a “starter” dog, i.e., one that was older, broken in, disciplined in all the necessities, and not in need of hands-on training.**

Our soft target for said starter dog was when teh Eldest Gel went away to college (or elsewhere), a year and a half from now.  What I did not expect was said starter showing up at Port Swiller Manor this weekend.

Suffice to say, whatever the cause, ol’ Robbo generally hates surprises.

After I had finished heaving the crockery, however, I began to see our acquisition of Daisy as an act of mercy.  It seems that Mrs. R picked her up from the pound.  She had been the pet of another family who were switching apartments, and, apparently, the new digs did not accept pets.  Hence, the heave-ho.  How anyone can do that to a dog is beyond me, but of course I know nothing of all the circs.  Suffice to say, it was not a good thing for Daisy.

Anyhoo, I’m happy to report that Daisy seems to be fitting in just fine.  She’s a gentle, genial thing and, discounting the trauma of landing in a completely new environment,  pretty laid back.  Indeed, she has glommed on hard to teh younger gels, especially teh middle one, going so far as to sneak the latter’s dinner this evening when unobserved.  Better yet to me, she and the kittehs have no problem with each other.  My only regret so far is that she seems to be afraid of me.  I’m guessing this has something to do with her former environment and reckon it won’t take very long for her to come around.

So, welcome aboard, Daisy!  A glass of, er, water with you!

I would only point out one thing:  As of now,  Port Swiller Manor contains Self, Mrs. R, three teenaged daughters, three female cats and one female dog.  That’s 8 to 1.  Anybody who thinks they can somehow make a profit on ol’ Robbo’s liver once he shuffles off this mortal coil can forget it.  It simply ain’t happening.


* Apparently, her original name was “Precious”.  Ain’t no way I would have a pet of that name.  We haaaates it!  Also, so I gather, her prior owners were Spanish-speaking only.  Thus, we’ve got a whole lot of re-edumacation on our hands here.  UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that Mrs. R chose “Daisy” in honor of Daisy Williams.  Who? Why, the guiding spirit of Sweet Briar College.  (Literally – her ghost still walks the campus.)  Yes, we’re still in the thick of that fight.

**  One of my ultimate life goals is that, if and when I retire (Oh, hohohohoh!!!!), I can have a man’s dog of my own.  I don’t mind a golden or a lab, but I’ve nothing against the terriers, particularly Scotties and fox terriers, either.  Indeed, I want something that challenges me, making a few bloody knuckles worth it.

UPDATE:  A glass of wine with all of you for your kind comments!  I walked out on to the porch this evening and teh place smelled…..doggeh.  Mmmmmmm.  A good, good smell.   So far as Daisy goes, all remains well.  She’s got into the family routine very quickly, has not made any messes, continues to get along perfectly well with teh kittehs and is firmly attached to teh younger gels, especially the Middle Gel, with whom she sacks out.  She’s still a bit skittish around me, which makes me wonder what things were like in her former family, but I am enough of an old hand with dogs to know that, with patience, she will come around.



Yesterday afternoon, as we sat in traffic together, the Eldest Gel started contemplating the Fort McHenry commemorative license plate on the car from Murrland in front of us.

“Why doesn’t D.C. have a War of 1812 license plate?” she suddenly asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “What would they put on it? A burning White House?”

“Sure, why not?”

I snorted.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took the Eldest Gel down to the County’s Juvenile Court this afternoon – and don’t think I didn’t milk that statement for all it was worth – in order to formally receive her driver’s license at the hands of one of the judges there.  (She’s had a temporary license for about three months now since completing her driver’s ed course, but this is the real deal.)

It was a reasonably nice and apropos little ceremony designed to hammer into the little bastids’ collective (there were about fifty kids) braims the fact that driving is both a privilege and a responsibility and that, broadly speaking, they don’t know jack about it yet.

First, we got shown a musick video of some kid consumed in grief because he’d just killed another young driver through his  own negligence.  “Why did this happen to me?” he kept lamenting through the rain, to which the obvious answers were a) um, because you go drunk and got behind the wheel? and b) you just killed an innocent girl and all you can think of is yourself?  The gel informed me that she’d already seen this video about a dozen times, so I’m thinking it had probably reached saturation point with most of the rest of the audience as well.  As for myself, I kept half-expecting the singer to suddenly look up and ask, “What does the fox say?”

Next, we had a little lecture from a gruff old Sarge’, in which he imparted a lot of stern words of what amounted to basic common sense.  There’s been a lot of ballyhoo recently about militarized thug cops, but this fellah was obviously one of the Good Guys.  My impression was that his wisdom was well-received.  (I learned a new term from him, by the way – “steaking”.  It seems certain kids in our area like to skip school, drive to Philadelphia, eat a cheesesteak for lunch, scootch home before school’s out and show the receipt for the sammich to their little friends to prove their roguishness.   The fact that they would voluntarily go anywhere within 100 miles of Philly to me shows their obvious immaturity.)

Then the judge gave us a little anecdote about the niece of a friend of hers who had been killed on the road the night before she was to go off to college.  Her point to the Li’l Darlins was that their decisions on the road impacted not just their own precious snowflake selves, but also everyone around them – family, friends, community, etc.   She also mentioned the fact that under Virginny law, Mom and Dad have the power to yank the youngling’s license at any point they feel it is necessary, and the Commonwealth will back them to the hilt.   I liked that last part especially.

After this, there was a bit of an anticlimax.  The judge said ‘bye and vanished, and the clerks started dealing out licenses and, well, that was pretty much it.

So here we are.  One down, two to go.  The Middle Gel can get her learner’s permit some time this summah, I believe, and seems hell-bent on doing so.


Teh Youngest upon arriving home today.

Teh Youngest upon arriving home today.

This afternoon, ol’ Robbo went to pick up teh Youngest Gel from school.  It’s a lovely day here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, so I put the top down on La Wrangler to enjoy the drive over.

Teh Gel has very long and thick hair and had neglected to bring anything with which to tie it back today.  As a result, a few minutes into the home leg, her tressed had blown all over her face.

“You look like Cousin It,” I said.

“Who?” she replied.

“You know – Cousin It.  Addams Family.”

“Oh,” she responded.  “Wait, was he the one with the bald head?”

“No, that’s Uncle Fester.”

“Um, wait.  Was he the really tall, Frankenstein-y one?”

“No, that’s Lurch.  Cousin It was the short one who was nothing but hair.  Now do you see?”

“Oooh, ha, ha, ha!  Um, wait, no.  I don’t remember him.”

It’s like I can’t even talk to these people anymore.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Late this afternoon, teh Youngest (now 13) decided to amuse herself by tie-dying a t-shirt.  Unfortunately, she “forgot” to don gloves before getting down to biznay.  The result, even after multiple washings with various soaps and alcohol-based cleansers, is that her hands look like they were worked over with a crowbar.

If you don’t hear from ol’ Robbo for a while, it’ll be because the gel’s school will have flipped out tomorrow morning when she shows up, and sicced Child Protective Services on me.

Honest, officer, I didn’t do nufkink.


(Actually, this tune is not quite apropos, because she’s really quite smart.  Indeed, I’m reasonably sure she pulls this sort of stunt just for the attention.  But it’s close enough and I happen to like it.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This evening, teh Eldest Gel informed me that her latest English assignment is to read Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye.

Gel: What’s it about?

Self: No offense, but it’s all about a teenaged hipster-doofus whining over his disillusioning encounters with the so-called Real World, which he discovers to be largely fake.  Your classmates are going to love it.

Gel: Really?

Self: Yes, really.

Gel: But…. we go through this all the time ourselves and I hate it!  I  already know we’re self-absorbed and ignorant!  I already know that eventually I’ll grow up and get a better perspective!  I already know that Christianity says all these earthly things are irrelevant! Why would I want to read some guy’s self-absorbed ranting about it?

Self: Because that’s the assignment.

Gel: Yeah.  But what a loser.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the vast majority of those friends of the decanter who have had or cared for small children have spent numerous hours  reading to the little “blessings” at bed-time.  I know I have, starting out with “‘C’ is for Clown” and “There’s A Monster at the End of this Book” (I can do a kick-ass Grover voice) and working up through Seuss and the Berenstain Bears (gack!) to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia Chronicles.

Well, guess what?  Apparently, this makes you and me Haters.   Because Social Justice or something:

“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.

“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”

Let that one sink in for a few moments.  Go on, I’ll wait.  Imagine getting fined or thrown into the hoosegow for spending a cozy half hour reading “Madeline” to your daughter because it might give her a leg up in the world.

I mentioned the article to Mrs. Robbo this evening and she simply couldn’t believe it.  But this is yet another marker of where dying Western Civilisation stands at the moment, even if most of us are still too fat and happy to see it.  Granted, the piece comes from Australia and the “academic” involved is a Brit,  but I’ll bet you it wouldn’t take me long to find some Progressivista here in teh States nodding at the “wisdom” of such a proposal.

They’d say, of course, that it’s “for the children” and the promotion of “fairness”, but that, if I may say so, would be a God-damned lie.  The real motivation, as is always the case with statists, has nothing to do with empowerment or equal chances, and is instead the beating down of all individualism, self-improvement, personal responsibility, and reward for hard work and merit, and the replacement of a free association of autonomous citizens with an army of mindless drones slaves serving the collective.

Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.

Yeah, right.  By this reasoning, it could be argued that I also “unfairly disadvantage” other people’s children by staying faithful to my wife, working hard at my job, providing the gels with a roof over their heads, food, clothing, religious grounding, and the best education we can manage, and trying to instill in them the same set of values and skill sets that my parents hammered into me and which have allowed me to do these other things for them.

Maybe I ought to knock off all of that, too?

Gelonesi is absolutely right in one thing: “Devilish” is exactly the right word.  God help us all.

UPDATE: Fun fact for you that I have long cherished.  Baltimore, the city that has been so much in the nooz lately, poster child for 50 years of Big State gub’mint, is tagged routinely as having the highest illiteracy rate of any major U.S. city.  In the late 80’s, the then-mayor decided to adopt a new motto for the place – “Baltimore – the City that Reads”.  Did so with a completely straight face, too.  By the bye, that little campaign is now dead, Jim.

UPDATE DEUX:  In response to some of the comments, yes, a few years ago I would have thought this article to be Onion-bait.  Not now.  Instead, I believe the forces of darkness, like the King of the Nazgul before the crumpled defenses of Minas Tirith,  are launching a full frontal assault all along the line.

SpongeBob_(5)Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This evening found ol’ Robbo helping out teh youngest gel in her 7th grade science homework of filling out Punnett squares of genetic variations among the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom.  The questions involved issues of square versus round and pink versus yellow bodies, and whether Mrs. Crab had been stuck with the wrong baby in hospital because it had short eyes instead of the more genetically-probable long ones.

I dunno.

On the one hand, teh Gel definitely took a greater interest in the subject matter due to the way it was served up.  On the other, anything to do with Spongebob tends to send ol’ Robbo’s eyes twitching and his heart palpitating.  From what I’ve seen of the series, it’s pretty clever but it’s waaaaaay too frenetic for me.  Also, when I tried to give a brief bio of Gregor Mendel and a summation of his work, she said, “Oh, yeah, we learned about him. Whatevs…..”  Head, meet desk.

On a different note, assisting teh gel reminded me of my ill-thought college foray into the pre-med curriculum.  Sophomore year, I took both genetics and organic chem.  The genetics lab work concerned fruit flies, both red and white-eyed and (I think) full versus stubbled wings.  Somehow or other, ol’ Robbo absolutely fubar’d the lab.  Indeed, I have a vague recollection of looking at one or more of my samples and wondering what the hell is THAT?

Yes, it was ugly.  However, I recognize now that my failure was due to my own immaturity and that, were I presented the same premise now, I’d thoroughly enjoy it.  As they say, education is wasted on yoot.   Those of us who have been around the block a few times would make much more of it.

So long as it wasn’t laid out in Spongebob terms, that is.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It seems that the Gels’ latest “What a Dinosaur ol’ Dad Is” meme is to make fun of the fact that I still carry around a Motorola flip phone which I must have had, oh, at least eight or ten years now.

Until they started this line of ragging, ol’ Robbo hadn’t even known it was a thing, since I hardly ever use my phone.  In fact, the only reason I even have one at all is for use while commuting in case of emergency or change of itinerary sent out from Port Swiller HQ.  Truth be told, I don’t even know my own cell number.

In response to the question of why I don’t upgrade, I also note:

a) that I don’t want to turn into one of the legion of zombies I see walking about with their eyes locked on their iThingies, and

b) even if I wanted to, from what I understand of our Verizon plan, Mrs. R and the gels have been helping themselves to my upgrades all this time, so I have not even been given the opportunity.

Anyhoo, I bring all this up because I had a dream last night that I was supposed to pick up Jon “Horseface” Carry at the Denver airport but, because I didn’t have my phone on, I had missed the instructions.  Somehow, as I scrambled about trying to get ready and wondering why I had to fetch him, I could hear his voice muttering in the background about “incompetence” and “shoddy service” and “I can’t believe this”.  Yeah, John.  You should talk.

I then further discovered that not only was I late to pick up Kerry at the Denver airport, it was also Thanksgiving Day; I had a house full of family, all of them already sitting expectantly at the table; and that I hadn’t even turned on the oven yet.  I found myself feverishly looking at the instructions on the turkey wrapping, trying to find out the correct oven setting.  The only number I could find was 500°F, which, even in my dream, I knew was way too high for a bird.

Finally, I looked up at my guests and said, “Um, this is going to take a while.”

And then I woke up.

UPDATE: Apropos, I saw this somewhere the other day.  Pretty funny because true:




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