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, January 29, 2005

Makes sense to me...

You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul.
-Julie-Jeanne-Eleonore de Lespinasse (1732-1776)
Letter to Guibert (1774)

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Surgical wedgies and terrorist midgets in the overheads

Yesterday's surgery was uneventful, if unsettling. It began when the intake person asked if I was an organ donor. "Not today," I replied.

The surgeon insisted that I have IV sedation in addition to the local anesthesia. I warned him that it wasn't a good idea to chemically reduce the inhibitions of a smartass, but he insisted. I should have just stopped off at the bar on the way in.

I was fine until they took my glasses. Everyone else in the O.R. had glasses, and I thought it was unfair that I was the only one who couldn't see what was going on. Then I learned that surgeon actually doing the cutting wasn't the male doctor who had originally examined me, but his wife. So I shut up about the glasses. I decided it was better for me not to see the expressions on her face as she poked around down there.

I was conscious during the whole procedure, but felt an odd detachment from the festivities. The only pain was from the various needle insertions for anesthesia.

Removal of the lipoma and two dozen assorted cutaneous papillomas ("hey, while you've got that cauterizing scalpel handy...") took only 15 minutes. They told me they couldn't do anything about the cherry angiomas, and I noted the term sounded like the name of a young Italian porn star.

I asked to see the offending tumor after its removal. Ick. Looked like a fatty chicken breast that had been marinated too long. Its dimensions surprised me: it was a lot bigger than I thought. The surgeon said it was the size of an orange. Her husband, who had originally examined me, had said it was the size of a baseball, confirming my observation that females describe unnatural growths in terms of citrus fruits, whereas men compare them to sports equipment.

I spent only about a half-hour in recovery. The anesthesiologist stopped by to ask how I felt. I told him I was fine, and remarked that you don't see many medical professionals with tentacles and a prehensile nose. It took a while to convince him that I was joking and not hallucinating, but he finally signed the release. I shook his flipper and beat a hasty retreat.

I took a cab back to my apartment, stopping at the local rib joint for a nice rib sandwich and fries in order to begin restoring the fat balance in my thighs. Plus, I hadn't eaten anything for about 14 hours.

I awoke this morning to find I was in more discomfort from the removal of the papillomas on my neck and shoulders than from the groin incision, which from time to time felt as if someone was giving me a wicked wedgie.

I was doing well until a friend at work sent me this, which induced a fit of laughter that threatened to shake loose yesterday's repairs.

Now all I have to do is wait for the biopsy. A cursory search of illustrated medical web sites seems to indicate that tumors resembling chicken parts are not typically malignant. I'm sure I'll get the all clear on my missing mcnugget.

And thanks to you all for the supportive e-mails and calls. Just be aware I will hold you to the free lunch/drink offers.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Things I don't want to hear during my surgery.

I think I lost a contact.

That's as good as it's gonna get.

I said "retract," not "remove," you idiot.

You know, there's big money in kidneys, and this guy has two of 'em.

And what did you do before, Mrs. Bobbitt?

Is it supposed to do that?

Better not throw it out. They may need it at the inquest.

I wish I had a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

The pumpy thingie is making that noise again.

Get Sanji out of the crapper. This guy's waking up.

He already has a couple kids, right?

Is it supposed to be that color?

Neat. How long will it do that before it falls off?

Check his wallet. See if he's an organ donor.

"Accept this humble sacrifice, Oh Lord of Darkness."

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Up your caduceus, pally.

"I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you."
-Dennis Miller

One thing they don't tell you about getting old is that "getting your lumps" is a literal expression.

Around 40 or so, I started developing lipomas -benign fatty tumors- in various places, mostly on my arms and chest.

The first time you encounter one of these, you panic. Then you discover it's no big deal, and that most of your friends of your age are, like yourself, slowly turning into the bioequivalent of a huge vat of chicken soup.

Once you get used to being lumpy and you discover your natural genetic makeup is also responsible for the blooming cherry angiomas (and that they aren't actually leprosy), you stop looking for anatomical anomalies.

A couple weeks ago I discovered a lump where... well, let's just say that if I didn't have something done, it would seriously affect my lucrative sideline income as a thong model.

I went to the internal medicine guy who Northern Illinois Blue Shield says I must see when I'm out here in Chicago. After dropping my pants, the doc's eyes widened and he said, "Wow! That's really big!" Not precisely the context in which one wants to hear that phrase.

Get thee to a surgeon, the internist said. This immediately bummed me out, because an internist sending you to a surgeon is like Target sending you to Wal Mart. The guy threw in the towel without a fight. Not good.

The surgeon's eyes widened, and said it had to come out. He was fascinated by it, and kept squeezing it in various ways. I resisted the strong urge to make a loud honking noise, primarily because I didn't have the requisite ventriloquism skills to make it really effective.

Ok, I want a second opinion. Back to Pittsburgh to Doctor Larry, who's been the official Physician to Curmudgeons since 1972. Nobody touches the The Goods without the okay from Doctor Larry. Plus, this would be my first surgery (not counting the minor thrombosed varix in 1973), and going to another doctor without first getting his blessing seemed like a bizarre form of infidelity.

After the requisite red state jokes, he digs around and says, "Yeah, it's a lipoma. It should come out. They're usually not lipsosarcoma. Maybe one in 500. You don't smoke, do you? Oh. Maybe one in 100."

At that point he takes my blood pressure and doubles the hypertension medication. On the way out, his new office person insists I pay for the visit. Now. In cash.

So, I've had the CT scan and go in today for the EKG. Tomorrow the sucker comes out. It'll be done with a local anesthesia. I'll be sore for the next couple days and then back in the figurative saddle on Monday.

As Woody Allen said in Deconstructing Harry, "The three most beautiful words in the English language are not 'I love you.' They are, 'It is benign.'

"Wow! That's big!" is, however, a close second.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Parting shots from the master

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.

You can add years to your life by wearing your pants backwards.

If you must smoke, don't do it orally.

Johnny Carson (1925-2005)

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Monday, January 24, 2005


You'd think it never snows in Pittsburgh or the temperature never drops below freezing.

On Saturday morning, the television stations spent hours covering the "snow event", with frequent radar updates and live remotes with reports that, yep, it was still snowing. Critical and surprising information was disseminated with breathless urgency: the falling snow was covering the roads(!) and that it was slippery (or, as a PennDOT spokesman reported in native Pittsburghese, "slippy.") In what was undoubtedly a bitter disappointment for disaster mongers, only five inches fell in the metro area.

This morning, the award for total inanity goes to WTAE, who had reporter/rocket scientist Marcie Cipriani reporting that -believe it or not- an egg dropped on the sidewalk in -1°F temperatures would -gasp- freeze!

No shit, Mister Wizard. Guess I better wear a coat, huh?

And it's snow. Not "white stuff." Snow.


The Steelers lost. Gee, if they had won, the city's financial woes would have been solved, I would have been able to find a job in the city instead of having to commute to Chicago, the snow would have disappeared, and the IQ of local newscasters would have jumped 50 points. Or so I was led to believe.


If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of leftover Spam.
-Johnny Carson (1925-2005).

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Good ol' Pittsburgh sensibility

"We need to keep it in perspective. It's a very, very important game, but it's not the be all and end all of everything. The city better get its act together regardless; I'm talking politically, with its business leaders, its religious leaders, everybody's got to get back to work."
-Dan Rooney

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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.

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Nutrition makes me puke

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eat wisely

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