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.

network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...


Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day

A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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Saturday, November 16, 2002

Oh, please, make him stop...

Yep, Michael Jackson keeps getting stranger. (Thanks to Sunshine, a fellow denizen of the ABC World News Now mailing list.)

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Friday, November 15, 2002

Survival Tips

Until I took the job in Chicago, I had never lived alone.

I had never cooked, done laundry, washed dishes or engaged in similar domestic pursuits until I arrived here in October 2000. I had led a remarkably sheltered life.

The last two years have been interesting, to say the least. Herewith are some things I've discovered:

There is a practical use for stuff you learned in high school physics. By using the formula:
d=0.5 * g * t2
where d=distance, g=gravitational acceleration (9.8 meters per second2) and t=time, I discovered it takes a two-liter bottle of Dr Pepper 4 seconds to fall down the garbage chute from the 23rd floor of my apartment building to the dumpster in the basement, covering a distance of 264.9 feet.

To conduct the preceding experiment without unforeseen complications, you need a wristwatch with a stopwatch function, should conduct your experiment between 2 and 4 am, and you should be wearing pants. Remembering not to lock your apartment door is also helpful.

The people who work in apartment building security are not interested in practical physics experiments. They also have no sense of humor.

Mold on vegetables is generally ok, but mold on meat is not to be messed with.

Avoid frozen TV dinners that feature stuffing. TV dinner stuffing is treated by the digestive system in a manner similar to corn, the major difference being that corn is not cube-shaped with sharp corners.

It takes about seven months for an ice cube to sublimate in the freezer.

Always buy your own bottle of salad dressing. Salad dressing is really heavy and jacks up the price at the salad bar. Also, just because it's green doesn't mean it's a vegetable.

Always wear clothes in a high-rise apartment building. There's always some weirdo in the office tower across the street who likes to work late at night and has a pair of binoculars.

If you're going to use binoculars to peer from your apartment building into the office tower across the street, always wear clothes.

The monitor that displays whether you have a package waiting at the valet desk has always just passed your floor when you look at it.

OxyClean removes stains from anything. This process is called fabric disintegration.

For fun, wait until the obsessive-compulsive lady leaves the laundry room, then throw an extra sock into her washer.

The last person on the elevator always gets off on a lower floor than yours.

When a provocatively attired trio of ladies approaches you on North Michigan Avenue and offers to "do a number" for you, they're not talking about a medley from Dreamgirls.

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Thursday, November 14, 2002

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day.

I couldn't connect to the Internet from my apartment this morning.

The lights on the cable modem were flashing in an appropriate cable modem-y way, and I could see Don Imus' sourpuss on the teevee so the cable itself was working. This meant either the ISP's server was down or the funny looking guy down the hall was downloading a high resolution porn epic that ate up all the bandwidth in the building.

The development forced me to rearrange my entire schedule. It's like waking up and discovering you're out of both coffee and cigarettes. I took my shower out of normal sequence so I could head into the office right after the missus and I had our daily 6:50 am central time conversation. It also meant I was going to be playing catch-up for the rest of the day.

Here's the normal procedure. While the coffee's brewing I check my personal e-mail and office e-mail for any important missives. Then I read the obits in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and New York Times online, check the log file on the website, update the quotations database, check for software upgrades and backup my laptop to Connected's remote online site. (See I highly recommend it.)

But not this morning. After stumbling out of bed, I noticed a warning notice on the computer that it couldn't connect to the Net. Thus distracted, I put on the coffee and returned to futz with the laptop. No joy. I heard the coffee stop brewing and went back into the kitchen to discover I had forgotten to put coffee in the basket, so I had 72 ounces of hot water instead of vital, life-giving liquid caffeine.

I put coffee in the basket and restarted the pot and grabbed the bottle of Diet Dr Pepper from the fridge as a stimulant substitute. Notice that there's no dot at the end of the Dr in Dr Pepper. Neither Dr Pepper nor Harry S Truman use periods in their names. Crap. There just isn't enough caffeine in Diet Dr Pepper. Focus, man, focus.

I decided to reboot the laptop and take my shower. Then, back into the kitchen for something to eat. I had a choice of cereal or frozen french toast. But I was low on milk and out of bananas. Did you know bananas are actually the planet's largest herb? They're also not native to my kitchen, so it was french toast this morning.

I glanced at the coffee pot, which was again filling up with clear water. Sitting next to it was the grounds basket, which I did fill with coffee but had neglected to put into the appropriate slot in the coffeemaker. I had to wait for the water to finish the brew cycle. Morosely, I took another swig of Diet Dr Pepper and placed the nearly-full two-liter bottle on the edge of the sink.

Where it tipped and fell and exploded, covering the kitchen floor and walls with no-calorie brown stickiness, but not until first impacting squarely on my right big toe, still sore and tender from Monday's gout attack.

A person of my size does not hop on one foot unassisted, so I grabbed the countertop to steady myself, in the process slamming my hand down on the coffee basket, which launched itself into the ether and described a perfect arc over my head. It impacted on the wall opposite the sink, the ground coffee adding an interesting texture to the abstract patterns created by the detonated Dr Pepper.

Ten years ago, I would have shrieked in frustration, slammed my fist into the wall, cursed the Almighty.

This morning I just went back to bed.

I'll get up as soon as the kitchen stops fizzing.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The Government Is Not Your Mommy

Computers can now keep a man's every transgression recorded in a permanent memory bank, duplicating with complex programming and intricate wiring a feat his wife handles quite well without fuss or fanfare.-Lane Olinghouse

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide if the federal government can withhold funding from public libraries that refuse to use software filters to block access to internet porn sites.

This is a (pardon the adjective) sticky problem, since pornographers are so clever and existing filtering software is so stupid.

Consider the porn site (You're going to have to type in the address yourself.) I find this offensive. Not necessarily the pictures, but the deception used to lure visitors. I wince when I think of the number of third graders who stumbled across this site while doing research for a school project.

On the other side of the coin, I know that is being blocked by certain software filters because of my affiliation with child pornography.

What affiliation with child pornography, I hear you ask? This link, which is responsible for about half the traffic to my site (look about halfway down on the page: "How Network Solutions, Inc. Made Me A Child Pornographer"), also managed to get me automatically included in more than a few blacklists. Several friends have had to ask the network administrators at their workplaces to remove the block on so they could correspond with me or read the website.

Software filters just don't work. And you can't burden librarians with being with guardians of morality. Life is dangerous. You never know when you're going to be confronted by a suicide bomber or an exposed female breast.

The government is not your mommy. I hope yours raised you well enough to resist temptation and not to become a sex fiend by looking at a picture of a naked woman.

Oh, and by the way... did you go to Great! Now you have a cookie on your machine. If the feds were to seize your computer right now, they could hold a press conference and claim that you frequent porn sites on the Internet.

Trust me. Library porn isn't the problem.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

It's not good to be the king.

"...the disease of kings and the king of diseases..."-The American College of Rheumatology

When I was back in Pittsburgh in September to help the missus recover from her bypass surgery, I suffered through a series of minor health-related incidents. I didn't mention them, because, hey, in comparison to bypass surgery, my problems were insignificant.

Like waking up with a spider leg in your mouth. Don't ask.

Or developing ringworm, which is really just a variation of athlete's foot or jock itch, except it's right in the middle of your back so you can't scratch it.

The most painful, though, was an attack of gout, a form of arthritis caused by the accumulation of needle-like uric acid crystals in the joints, particularly in the big toe. Gout's been around for a long time. The first doctor, Hippocrates, the guy with the oath, wrote about it in ancient Greece. Benjamin Franklin was frequently immobilized by it. Until September, my knowledge of gout was limited to a line from the musical 1776, where old Ben told one of his fellow Continental Congressman "I wish King George felt like my big toe, all over."

Alcohol consumption is one of the suspected causes of gout, but I really don't drink, aside from the bottle of Michelob every other payday. Dried peas and beans are high in prurines, the substance responsible for the uric acid accumulation, but I'm not really a peas and beans guy, either. I suspect my latest attack was prompted by the Chinese takeout I had over the weekend: shrimp and lobster sauce. Earlier in the week I had shrimp fried rice for dinner, and on Friday I had the cod special. What can I say? I live on the edge.

Anyway, the attack I had back in September had me hobbling to my family doctor. I almost went to the emergency room, since the pain felt like I had actually broken some bones in my foot. I couldn't put on my shoe, and I was contemplating digging out the crutches from the attic.

My doctor gave me a prescription of colchicine, a drug made from saffron flowers that's been around for about two centuries. Within a day, the pain was totally gone.

Before I returned to Chicago, I visited my physician again and got refill prescriptions so I would be ready if I had another attack. I awoke Sunday morning at 2 am with a throbbing right big toe, and found myself unable to put any weight on my foot.

Smug in my brilliant foresight, I dug through the compartment in my backpack where I keep my drugs. Nasal spray, aspirin, Imodium, multi-vitamin packets. Everything was there. Except the colchicine.

I searched every inch of my apartment, literally on my hands and knees, since I couldn't walk. We're not talking about a lot of space here; my studio apartment in Chicago is about the same size as my living room back home. Nada. Zip. I found some dimes and pennies, a pen I thought I had left at a customer site in Canada, the patch kit for my AeroBed and an AC adapter for a cellphone I no longer have. But no colchicine.

A co-worker had graciously offered to pick up a new prescription for me and bring it to my apartment, and I was about ready to pursue that course of action when I had my daily morning phone call with my wife. Explaining my situation, Pam suggested I look in my medicine cabinet.

I don't keep medicine in my medicine cabinet. It's a safety thing. When I stumble into the bathroom in the morning, I usually don't have my glasses on, and I'm afraid of accidentally dosing myself with the wrong meds. I didn't even bother to look there when conducting my futile search.

"I don't keep medicine in the medicine cabinet," I told Pam confidently. "Just look," she said. So I hung up the phone and hopped into the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet and there, on the first shelf, was the bottle of colchicine.

I'm still hobbling a bit, but if I can get my shoe out of my mouth and on to my foot, I'll be heading into work today.

I hate women because they always know where things are.-James Thurber

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Monday, November 11, 2002

Fashion fades, but fat is forever.

Being a well-dressed man is a career, and no one who goes in for it has time for anything else.-Heywood Broun

No one has ever accused me of being a slave to fashion. This probably has more to do with mass than morals: the latest examples of sartorial splendor typically don't come in my size, 50 Mutant.

I wear clothes until they disintegrate. I have underwear older than my children. This is not due to any sentimental attachment to the apparel, but because I hate spending money on clothes. Nothing attractive comes in my size, and, like most persons of bulk, I always plan to lose weight and don't want to invest a lot of money in clothing that eventually won't fit me.

This is a persistent delusion most fat people have. I also use spearmint mouthwash because I read somewhere ages ago that Ann-Margret loves spearmint, and should we ever meet, I want to be certain to make a memorable impression. "Jeez, Ann, look at the size of that guy! Yeah, but doesn't he have fresh-smelling breath..."

I keep shirts until they accumulate indelible inkstains. All of my shirts are gray. Eventually.

I wear pants until they become so shiny I slip off surfaces. This occurs when the multi-layer pilling effect no longer provides sufficient friction.

I have what is known as a perfect shape. Not in human form, but in mathemetics. My waist is precisely double my inseam. Picture the Munchkin Mayor and you'll get the idea.

While I share the general shape of a Munchkin, alas, I am built to a somewhat larger scale. This precludes the most obvious solution to my problem, which is to purchase my clothing at a theatrical costume outlet.

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. You'd think a teeming metropolis of this magnitude would have clothing stores that feature my size. Well, yes and no.

The regular department and clothing stores do have "big and tall" sections, but they take the conjunction seriously. They do have my waist size, but I'm not 9'2".

There are, of course, "big men" stores, but they're pricing is downright predatory. I'm not going to pay $200 for a pair of pants unless there's a girl in 'em.

My main source of attire, the Ames department store chain, is bankrupt and out of business. During my last trip to Pittsburgh, I did manage to score a half-dozen shirts before their demise. But they were completely out of pants. According to a frazzled salesperson, the mutants descended in droves at first light, seized all the XX* sizes and disappeared into the mist, not unlike a herd of wildebeests, if wildebeests wore Hawaiian print shirts.

In desperation, I recalled the mail order outfit I used in the 70s and 80s, when my clothing purchases were driven by pricing alone. Thankfully, the company still exists and actually stocks clothing which fits my Brobdingnagian physique.

So I was able to get rid of most of my old pants. I donated them to a local homeless shelter. Well, more precisely, they now are a local homeless shelter

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Sunday, November 10, 2002

Tired of Nigerian spam?

At least these scam artists have some imagination:

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Just Checking In...

KGB Report is a Monday through Friday effort. Weekends I keep for vegetating and autodidactic pursuits. Oh, and laundry.

But I have a few minutes before the dryer load is finished, and if I don't write stuff down any more, I forget it.

Nothing much. Unlike Italy, which had a couple of hundred thousand anti-globalization demonstrators show up at their event, the malcontents here in Chicago never managed to get their act together. After their Thursday night debacle, which the Chicago police turned into a riot gear fashion show, the media totally ignored them. There was a rally planned at Daley Plaza this past Friday and other events scheduled over the weekend, but I can find no references to them on either the Sun Times' or Tribune's web sites. That's the problem with anarchists. They just can't organize.

Shades of Lansbury In the 70s there was a guy named Lansbury who used to wander the streets of Pittsburgh with sandwich boards complaining that he couldn't get his mail. Every big city has a couple of these. There's one who has something against the owners of the office building where I work in Chicago. Unlike Lansbury, who was charming (if a bit daft), this guy just mutters to himself. On Friday, though, he seemed rather lucid. He warned me as I entered the building, "Don't go in there, boy... you can't win." He got that right, anyway.

A Friendly Hint to the half dozen or so panhandlers who solicit me on my daily walk to and from work: calling me "big fella" is not going to induce me to part with my loose change.

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

Feral Geek

eat wisely

Dyslexics have more fnu!

It's here!

Eff and Scrute

440 pages, over 11,000 quotations!

Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable

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