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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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What makes this country great..

... or, more accurately, why I love Chicago.

I crashed last night about 7 p.m. and awoke this morning at 2, refreshed but hungry.

I'm on the "wrong" end of the downtown; the big Hilton across from Grant Park. I spent my five years living here on the west side of the loop, so I don't know what's open all night on the east side.

I hit the street, walk past the sleeping cabbies at the hotel stand waiting for their first O'Hare runs of the day, and instead flag one on South Michigan.

"I need a 7-11 or a White Hen," I tell the young fella behind the wheel. He makes a u-turn, cuts down Balbo to State, and in three minutes I'm loading up with some fresh orange juice, a poorboy sub and a Suzy Q, the breakfast of champions- or, at least, of software geeks with no discernible diurnal rhythm.

Back into the waiting taxi and back to the hotel. Total time, fifteen minutes; total cost, less than the price of a bottle of water from the mini-bar in my room.

The forecast is calling for thunderstorms later today, which will probably wreak havoc with my flight back to Pittsburgh. But O'Hare has wireless internet service now, so I should be able to survive any delays.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Tell me it's not a Monday...

Taking the early evening flight on Sunday from Pittsburgh to Chicago can be a crap shoot. Bad weather, congestion at O'Hare; the flight's often delayed. Sometimes it gets canceled, and there are never seats open on later flights. You just go home and try again on Monday.

Ah, but yesterday was a clockwork setup. The shuttle bus arrived at the extended parking lot in a reasonable amount of time. I was through security in less than five minutes. The flight pushed off 15 minutes late but arrived at O'Hare in just an hour and ten minutes.

The CTA website warned of Blue Line construction, so I took the cab to the Hilton on South Michigan near Grant Park. My $100 a night Priceline booking resulted in a nice 15th floor corner room with a great view of the lake.

Then I booted the laptop.

It found the hhilton wireless network immediately, reported an excellent signal, and then just sat there. Can't find a server. Hmm, the lights are on, but nobody's home.

A call to the support number revealed their network had been down all day, with no ETA for its repair. I imagined scenes of the '68 Democratic Convention as angry businessmen discovered they were severed from the net's umbilicus.

Me? I've mellowed in my old age. I decided to turn in early. I slept until 2am, checked to see the net was still down, then grabbed a cab for the office on North Wacker. I was beginning to feel a bit stressed. I typically use the early morning hours to be hyper-productive, but it didn't appear to be working out that way today.

I swiped my security card at the front desk... nada. Didn't recognize me. That's the problem with not working at the main office; sometimes you miss the memos. Did they issue new cards and forget to tell me? Security called the three emergency numbers they had on file so management could vouch for me. That's the only way I was getting upstairs. Get real; it's 3am. No answers; three voice mail systems.

After 20 minutes it was obvious no one was calling back, so I grabbed another cab back to the Hilton where the Internet remained down until 6 a.m.

It's going to be a looong day. The first person who mentions at the quarterly meeting that I look tired is going to get an earful...

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Violators will be prosecuted.
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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Laugh while you can, monkey-boy


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As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
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I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


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


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