Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.


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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

News of the day

Scientists Create First Working Model of a Two-Qubit Electronic Quantum Processor.

Just trying to keep you all up to speed.

You're welcome.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Kathy

There have been an unusual number of celebrity deaths in the past week. They grab the headlines because their careers in the spotlight "touched the lives of millions."

But what does that phrase really mean?

In most cases, it means you saw the celebrity on television or at the movies; you bought an album or attended a concert; maybe you were fortunate enough to meet the celebrity, shake hands, get an autograph.

The paradox here is that the celebrity, known by millions, is really untouchable. The "life touching" business is all on your part. The celebrity is not even a participant; the term is purely figurative.

Kathy Cecotti, who passed away today at a terribly young 42, touched the lives of thousands. Not figuratively, but literally.

She not only touched them- she taught them, guided them, supported them, cared for them. Touch is a totally inadequate term. She embraced the lives of her students.

No one who met or worked with Kathy could ever forget her. Fifteen years ago when my kids were in the high school drama club, we all had the great good fortune to have her as a director. My kids learned that hard work, diligence and responsibility provided great rewards. They also learned that for the success of a show, it was often necessary to put the needs of others ahead of their own. How unlike the cold philosophy of the solo, narcissistic "stars" of today... but Kathy knew those lessons not only made good shows- they made good lives.

There were practical lessons as well. I learned how to make Kool-Aid in 12 gallon barrels and developed the optimum pricing methods to use to make certain all the cookies were gone when it was time to close the refreshment stand. Also, how to stay awake when you're chaperoning an all-night cast bowing party, which is not as easy as it sounds. Kathy also taught me that "a few t-shirts" was actually a dozen- and I still wear those South Park High School 1994 "Babes In Arms" shirts with pride.

Watching Kathy direct or perform (she played a great drunk in "Promises, Promises" at the local community theater) was a pure joy. That's the word that sticks in my mind when I remember her. The thesaurus entries for "pure" provide an astute, accurate description of Kathy: "authentic, bright, classic, clear, complete, fair, flawless, lucid, natural, perfect, real, simple, straight, total, transparent, true, unadulterated, pure and simple, twenty-four carat, unalloyed, unclouded, undiluted."

Fans of celebrities may have an autograph or a recording or a poster on a wall. The students of Kathy- and, really, that's what we all were- have her indelibly etched in our memories.

She taught you where to stand, how to project, how to do a double take, how to tell your partner in the dance number he had bad breath, how to build up the nerve to ask the cute prop girl out on a date... and, of course, the wise, tender counsel that enabled you to deal with that horrible dilemma you couldn't discuss with anyone else. Today, that problem reveals itself as a laughable teenage trifle. But Kathy managed to keep a straight face, and she gave you sound, sincere advice that you use to this day.

There's an old saying that a good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.

Remember that, especially now, when grief tries to envelope us with its numbing blackness.

Thanks to Kathy, our existence- that stage we all share- is not dark. It's illuminated by the good works of her life. And it's a light that will always be with us.

Kathleen Cecotti
June 29, 2009

Age 42, after a heroic five-year battle with cancer, Kathy gracefully exited this life on Monday, June 29, 2009. Kathy is the beloved wife and high school sweetheart of Keith Cecotti and loving mother of Carter 13, Teddy 10, and Preston 5. Kathy is survived by her mother and step-father, Mary and Tom Burich, her sisters Amy Loris and Janet (Mike) Tracey, and her brother James (Corinna) Marshall. Kathy is also survived by step-brother Tom and step-sister Lynda, as well as 12 nieces and nephews. Kathy is the loved daughter-in-law of Mel and Diane Cecotti, and sister-in-law of Kevin Cecotti. Kathy was pre-deceased by her father, Harry B. Ford. Kathy has spent 15 years teaching Theatre and English at Thomas Jefferson High School. Kathy's greatest passion has been her involvement with the drama club at TJHS, where she has directed many plays and musicals which have involved thousands of students. Kathy enjoyed sharing her love of theatre with all of her students and always tried to be a positive influence on the students and faculty alike. Kathy was also a long time member of St. Paul's Espicopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, where she greatly enjoyed the love and faith that she shared with the clergy and her many friends there. Kathy has touched the lives of many people throughout the South Hills and will be sadly missed. Friends will be received on Wednesday and Thursday from 1- 4 and 6-9 at the Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, 301 Curry Hollow Road, Pleasant Hills. Funeral services will be Friday, July 3, 2009 at St. Paul's Espicopal Church. Interment Jefferson Memorial Park.

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Photo of the day

(via Michael King, posted on the ABC World News Now discussion group on Google)

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

What to do with your flying monkey

When my daughter was young and I traveled on business, I would invariably open my suitcase in the hotel room and discover my little sweetie had hidden a small teddy bear or other stuffed animal in with my clothes, usually with a crayon-inscribed note. It always made me smile; it was comforting to know someone was thinking about me during my travels.

I mention this because Cindy is away visiting family, and before she left I secreted a small item in her luggage: specifically, a Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz flying monkey. It was a McDonalds giveaway item. Nonetheless, its acquisition had forced her to visit multiple McDonalds and order multiple Happy Meals. That's what you call true personal sacrifice.

The monkey has a position of honor on the piano in my office. It caught my eye as Cindy was packing on Friday night. The scheme was quickly hatched.

The next day, as Cindy traveled with her daughters and grandkids to a softball game, I gave her a call. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, the payoff came:

"Why did you put a flying monkey in my suitcase?"

"So you could enjoy the expressions on the faces of the people hearing you ask me that question."

Some things are worth the extra effort.

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So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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