Friday, March 31, 2023

We see ourselves reflected in our dog's eyes ...

... not as we are, but as we would like to be.  Wolfgang is most noticeable by his absence - no greeting at the door when I come home, no canine friend sleeping in his usual spot, no morning greeting when I wake up, no goodnight dog biscuits.

What's worst of all is in the mirror, all I see is me as I am.  It sure was better with him.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

All of Man's virtues, with none of his vices

If Ike wants a friend in Washington, he should get a dog.
- Harry Truman, on Eisenhauer's 1953 Inauguration

It was 2012.  I was done with the Atlanta-Austin shuttle.  What I found was that my family liked me being away from home all the time, as long as the paycheck cleared.  My soon-to-be-ex was increasingly angry and dismissive; my two surly teenage sons were, well, increasingly surly.

And so I channeled my inner Ike and got a dog.  I wanted something that I knew would love me, without asking for anything in return (except for love and kindness, that is).  This was Wolfgang's introduction to this blog.

I didn't know just what an extraordinary friend I had brought into the house.  I did a better job socializing and training him than I had on my old German Shepherd, Jack.  30 years of me growing up helped a lot there.  But Wolfgang was something special.  He loved going to the dog park (morning and evening) which I never did with Jack, and so he became comfortable and social around all the other dogs.  I took Wolfgang on walks in the woods, like I had with Jack.  But as Wolfgang grew, so did his personality.  He had a gusto for life when it was him and me spending time together.  I was his Dad, but he was my friend and companion.

My marriage augured into the ground, and I met The Queen Of The World.  Wolfgang discovered what I was learning, that she was extraordinarily caring.  She made sure his food and water dishes were clean and full.  She gave him a bed (a folded up blanket, but it was his place) which he had never had before.  She gave him his first stuffed toy, which we called his "baby".  He'd never had one before.  I was his Dad, and did things with him.  She quickly became his Mom, and did things for him.  Wolfgang loved her immediately.  

He loved her even when she took his baby and put it in the washing machine.  He lost his mind - it was HIS baby!  He relaxed when she took it out of the washer, and then lost his mind all over again when she put it in the dryer.  But The Queen Of The World made sure he had his own bed to sleep on, and his baby to sleep with him.

Pretty soon she replaced the blanket with an actual bed for him.

She was a great Mom for him.  She got him his first Frisbee.  I threw tennis balls for him to chase, and she noticed that he would catch them when I lobbed them to him.  So she got soft Frisbees and he took to that like a duck takes to water.  He would get huge hang time jumping for them - it was like a shark hitting a tuna.  The Frisbee in the photo below is at least seven feet off the ground.  We met most of the folks in the neighborhood because everyone noticed the big, good looking dog carrying the Frisbee.  The neighborhood kids in particular all wanted to throw it for him.  Wolfgang quickly learned that kids just wanted to play with him.  He loved kids, and they loved him.  The neighborhood Moms all relaxed when they watched everyone having fun with the big Frisbee dog.

Unlike Jack, he also loved being around other dogs.  He would play at the dog park, and was always good about sharing his Frisbee.  I've never seen a dog get along with other dogs as well as he did.

The Queen got him a raincoat, because I would take him out, rain or shine.  She called him the "Morton Salt dog".

You see, we'd go look for deer lurking around Castle Borepatch and sometimes it rained.  Sometimes it didn't.  Whichever, we had our time together every day.

The Queen Of The World and he had time together every day, too.  Christmas was always special, because she filled his stocking to overflowing.  He always got excited when she hung his stocking with ours.  He knew she was taking care of him, in a way he hadn't ever had before.

The move to Florida was good for him, as it was to us.  His back and hips were going bad, and he didn't have cold and snow to deal with, or stairs to navigate.  And while there weren't many deer, there were a lot of cows.  He loved saying hello to the cows.

But time and tide wait for no man, or dog.  His back became nothing but arthritis, and the sockets of his hips were jagged bone.  It got harder and harder for him to walk.  If you look closely in the next picture, you can see that he couldn't quite get his back end all the way up, and his back legs are tangled up.  He'd fall and have trouble getting up.  That was two months ago, and it continued getting worse.

One night he fell and had to pull himself with his front legs to where he could stand up.  You could see the pain in his eyes, and while he never used to whine that became more common.  And so we spoiled him, and made the call to the vet.  The first picture of him is at the top of the post; this is the last photo I took of him.

The Queen Of The World made him chicken and rice, and he ate a huge lunch yesterday, and loved every bit of it.  We gave him Frosty Paws which we'd stopped because it upset his digestive system.  But all rules were suspended yesterday.  And then we went to the vet.

Yesterday was a bad day.  He gave us what I had hoped for when I got him - unconditional, devoted love.  The Queen Of The World and I returned that to him - we used to say that he was our child.  We would give him morning family hugs and tell him "I love you".  Soon he was saying it back to us: Ooo OOOOO ooo.  He would match the word length and tone perfectly.

But of course, he wasn't our child, he was our dog.  Rather than three score and ten, we had him for a decade and one.  We are now constantly reminded of him by his absence, where he should be waiting for us but is not.  Yesterday morning was the hardest; rather than him eager to see me get out of bed, it was silence.  I'm sort of wrecked, losing someone like that.  I am sure glad that I have The Queen Of The World with me.  

Wolfgang was hands down the best dog we've ever had.  He was so friendly with both people and dogs, so smart and easy to train, so well behaved, and so damned handsome that everyone in the neighborhood is sad, too.  He truly earned the words from Epitaph to a Dog:

Near this spot rests one who had
Beauty without Vanity;
Strength without Insolence:
Courage without Ferocity;
and all Man's Virtues with none of his vices.

This has been a long post, but it's his due.  I sure would rather not have the occasion to write it.  The Queen and I will never see his like again.

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
- Will Rogers
Ave atque vale, Wolfgang.  I sure miss you.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Today is Wolfgang's last day

He can't walk without help.  It's time.

Blogging will be sparse since The Queen Of The World and I are busy spoiling him. 

UPDATE 27 MARCH 2023 20:35: More tomorrow, but he was such a friendly dog.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Liminal Space

 Liminal space is a word and a concept I ran across a couple of years ago. When I understood what it was I realized that there were times in my life when I had experienced liminal space and had no words or framework to process the experience.

In some ways, liminal space can refer to a place and how we experience it. It can also refer to a time period and life experience. It is time outside of time.

The death of someone close can push a person into a place where time feels stopped, where even if you are required by situation and events to function normally in an exterior way, it seems that life is on hold. Memories arise of times and events long past. The colors of ordinary life fade.

In the Bible, it is the retreat into the desert. The 40 days, a symbolic number in the Old Testament, not an exact count of days and nights. A time apart from the ordinary flow of life.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is a modern example of the experience. Ms. Didion's book chronicles her grief following the sudden death of her husband. The suspended time of weeks and months where she thinks irrational thoughts and hopes, awash in memory, wanting to bring him back. The time fades slowly back to normal as she processes the loss and begins to resume her life.

My own experiences with this phenomena is not to fight it or try to move past it. Give it the time and respect it deserves. Look deeply at the loss, your grief, the regrets and guilt you feel. Take the time and space you need.

Decades ago, in what I see as my first adult experience with liminal space, the Catholic church in the town  I lived in was an old, very small, building and it remained unlocked. You could go in day or night. Attending service there was a completely different experience to being there alone. The silence and sense of timelessness was nearly overwhelming. I carried a camera with me once and here is one of the pictures I took trying to capture it on film.

I share this, not to focus on my losses, but to offer my thoughts and condolences to Borepatch. As he mourns his brother and faces the loss of Wolfgang in the coming days, I ask you all to keep him in your thoughts, whatever that might mean to you.

"Honor the space between no longer and not yet."

--Nancy Levin

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Luke Combs - Still

This week as another offering from the New Nashville, one that gives me hope for the future of Country Music.  It's a brand new release from Luke Combs that could have come out 30 years ago.  It's classic country.

The Queen Of The World pointed this out to me, thinking it would make a good Saturday Redneck post.  She's single-handedly trying to rescue country music for me.

Still (Songwriters: Luke Combs, Jamie Davis, Ray Fulcher, Dan Isbell, Dustin Nunley)
Sure as the north star shining Sure as in spring the dogwoods bloom Sure as the sunset sinking west before it falls Like the leaves in autumn trees were made to do I’m still falling for you girl From the second that I saw you My whole world stood still After all this time I’m just as in love as the day I made you mine I ain’t stopped flying high and never will I’m falling for you still Sweet as summer honeysuckle True as the words written in red Pretty as the daisies growing wild upon the hill Like the rain that came from storm clouds overhead I’m still falling for you girl From the second that I saw you My whole world stood still After all this time I’m just as in love as the day I made you mine I ain’t stopped flying high and never will I’m falling for you still I’m still falling for you girl From the second that I saw you My whole world stood still After all this time I’m just as in love as the day I made you mine I ain’t stopped flying high and never will I’m falling for you still Falling for you girl From the second that I saw you My whole world stood still After all this time I’m just as in love as the day I made you mine I ain’t stopped flying high and never will I ain’t stopped flying high and never will I’m falling for you still Falling for you still

Friday, March 24, 2023

Rest In Peace, Younger Brother Borepatch

Older Brother called yesterday with bad news.  Younger Brother died suddenly and unexpectedly.  There sure seems to be a lot of death in my family lately.  Do not recommend. 

Younger Brother didn't like the classical music I used in Dad's send off.  He didn't care for the Gospel I used for Mom's.  He liked this, and I sort of think that he'd think it would be appropriate.

Ave atque vale, Bro.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Elmore James - The Sky Is Crying

James died far too young at 45.  He wrote this song, which is one of the Blues classics.  You wonder what else he would have written if he had gotten his full three score and ten.


Dad Joke CCL

I missed the Ides of March, so this is a belated Ides Dad Joke.

How do you make a Caesar Salad?

Stab it a bunch of times. 

Repost on why computer security is so hard

I see that a few dozen of you have clicked through to the old post I linked to yesterday (well done, you!).  I'm reposting it here because it has held up so well.  Remember, this post was written almost 15 years ago and the Android data disclosure problem shows that it is still current .  It is also one of the very first posts to get the Best Post tag.  It's interesting (and a little gratifying) to be able to dust off such an old post to illustrate current events.

Note that I had to update a link in the post due to Internet link rot.

======= Originally posted 7 September 2008 ==========

We're not as smart as we think we are

Ever wonder why bridges almost never fall down? They almost never do, and when it happens, it's big news.

Ever wonder why you have to update your computer every month because of security bugs? (and while Microsoft is the example here, this applies to every computer, every operating system, and every application).

The biggest problem is that software technology changes so quickly. If your code is still being used ten years later, that's a big win. If it's being used twenty years later, it's headlines. Yet there are modern-design bridges that are older than the United States.
This is the Iron Bridge, the world's first bridge made entirely from iron. When it was completed in 1781 it was one of the wonders of the world, and a triumph of the Industrial Revolution. Other than being made of iron, it is entirely unremarkable to people today. The basics are simple, even after a couple centuries:
  • Bolt the girders together.
  • Paint the iron to make sure it doesn't rust.
  • Check the bridge regularly, especially for rust.
Software isn't like that. You can change software so that it does other things, sometimes radically different things. While it starts out as a simple, say, text editor, by the time you're done adding new features, it's Disco-Roller-Fishing.

Back to bridges. You never hear the following said in discussions about bridges:
We'd like you to change your girder_connector_bolt() function to also spread Nutella on toast.
This is not only possible with software, but it happens all the time:
We'd like you to add IP network capability so that people can remotely manage the factory control system.
The problem is that we're not as smart as we think that we are. Adding the IP networking capability adds security risk, but nobody stops to think about those new risks. And then someone finds out that a single IP packet can crash the process control computer [this is the link that I had to update due to Internet link rot - Borepatch] that controls your industrial ovens, and all your cookies burn up.


This happens all the time, because we like to turn our pretty solid factory process control system into a Web 2.0 Disco-Roller-Fishing portal. Think about this before you get all excited about online banking.

Any change you make to software may add a security bug. Even fixing a security bug can introduce another security bug.

Upgrading from a 32-bit CPU to a 64-bit CPU is, shall we say, a "target rich environment". Dave LeBlanc (one of the smartest coders I know) shows how. This one is pretty funny (in a really security geeky way) because you may introduce a security bug without changing the code - just recompiling it for 64-bit is enough to do the damage. One of your key security assumptions - which was perfectly valid on 32-bit - is no longer valid on 64-bit.

Now let's run it in a virtualized environment. How's your security? (Cliff Note's answer: you don't know, and nobody else does, either)

Computer security is a really interesting field. Because of the rate of change in computer technology, it never lacks for something new. But I think that maybe we've lost, and that it's Game Over.

Iron Bridge? #2 son understands it; #1 son might be able to design it. And it wouldn't fall down, either.

Software? We can make everything safe except for Disco-Roller-Fishing.