Sunday, June 04, 2006

Fear of Flight

I'm lying on the floor of a strange room, flat on my back, arms up, hands waving in the air, prepared to catch or fend off the beast running headlong toward me through the doorway. Just out of range, he leaps, a blur of long white fur with multi colored brindle hues, sailing over me past my fingertips in an impossibly long and graceful arc, only to land beyond and disappear at full gallop out the other door.
Two beats and he is back for the return flight, again overhead, fur pressed back by the wind, grinning ear to ear, out of reach.
This is the Harrigan of my dreams last night. This is the Harrigan I can't get out of my mind or out of my heart.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Today Harry went to sleep forever.

It has been a rich seventeen years for all of us who have known Harrigan. And he got a real kick out of it, too.

Harry, as you've heard many times, I raised you from a pup. You're the only being who can claim that. And you have been my best buddy the whole time, day in day out, side by side for seventeen years. Nobody else can say that either. Your presence completed me; your absence is profound.

Peace and love to you, Harry, always.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Springing Eternal

Harry is responsible for more digital imagery and hard drive storage than any other animal since Noah started arkiving species. There aren't enough electrons in the universe to adequately represent him. Offered here are a mere billion or so pixels from recent sessions as he is inspired by socks, snoozing and changes of season.

Harry and Scary
Harry and Scary: Couch Potatoes

Potato Nest
Potato Nest

I said, "Harrigan, between naps, could you please sort my socks today?" One little favor. Is that too much to ask?

Has wakeup call for brunch.

April 2nd: Winter over?

Spring Grin
April 16th: Spring Grin.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Happy Whelpday: 25 Inches of Frosting

Harrigan is 17 today! That's the calendar's reckoning, by the way. Translated into dog years, he's up there with Methuselah and Pluto.
Here is a snap of birthdayboy and blizzardboy from this past Sunday's record snowfall.

People often say that you just multiply the calendar years by seven to get "dog years". Yet you also hear that small breeds have longer lifespans than large, bulky breeds. Therefore, the seven-to-one factor can't apply for all dogs.
Life expectancy at birth for a 2001 red-blooded American homo sapien is 77.2 years. (Man, I hope I hang on a little more. Three decades more, maybe?) So therefore, if you correlate the life expectancy of a particular dog breed and want to get "dog years" you'd create a factor that, when multiplied by the doggie's elapsed calendar years, would yield its "human age", based on the average life expectancy of that breed. There are several fallacies in this approach, but, what the hell, the nerd in me went ahead anyway and created a table to test the hypothesis:

BreedMean Height (Inches)Mean Weight (Pounds)Max Age (Calendar Years)Multiplier
supposedly longest lifespan
7.5 4 15 5.1
Dachshund 16 20 15 5.1
Beagle 14.5 23.5 15 5.1
Tibetan Terrier 15 24 15 5.1
Boxer 23.5 65 14 5.5
Bloodhound 26 100 12 6.4
Akita 27 97.5 12 6.4
St. Bernard 26.5 155 10 7.7
Great Dane 32 160 10 7.7
Irish Wolfhound
shortest :-(
31.5 120 8 9.7

First of all, Googling For Truth, you get significantly different numbers from different sources. ("Big surprise!" say all you experienced researcher-types out there.) My initial source was the AKC site, except they rarely talked about the weight of a dog. I ended up preferring the dogbreedinfo site better since it always listed statistics consistently, including the weight range. It also nudged the life expectancy a little higher than the AKC. Perhaps that's because a lot of the AKC standards were set in the late 1950's and maybe dogs are living longer now, with vitamins and satellite TV and stuff. Anyway, I had to revise my stupid table a few times.

So based on the TT multiplier of 5.1, Harrigan is 87! If I'd used the conventional 7-dog-year canard, he'd be 119. Which is ridiculous. He doesn't act like any 119-year old I ever saw profiled on Nova. He certainly has way more hair.

In case you were wondering, Pluto first appeared as a bloodhound in the 1930 Mickey Mouse cartoon "The Chain Gang". Soon thereafter he was adopted by Minnie Mouse. In 1931 he became Mickey's dog Pluto in "The Moose Hunt." That makes him 76 calendar years old and, for a bloodhound, at 486 human years, pretty damn impressive.

Still I'm sure the Pixar doctors will inject new 3D life into him, ani-fx gel light-gleam algorithms plumping up his formerly "flat" demeanor. The New Disney will bury Snow White and her antiquated dwarfs.

How to interpret my table:

1. Don't believe it. It is totally unscientific and may not resemble real life. Both Harrigan and my father (who is 93, sometimes puppy-like, and still covers several thousand miles a year) prove what exceptions can derive from love and positive thinking.

2. The stages of human life are not analogous to other species. For example, we humans spend much more time in adolescence (learning the rules of life) than other animals, relative to our entire time on this sphere. The important adjustments we need to make for social success are totally different from those for a dog (unless you're in Marketing).

3. Human medical treatment and life-prolonging technology far surpass that for other animals. Much veterinary medicine is still based on human instinct(!) and trial and error. There has not been the financial incentive to make medicine for animals a perfect science. That is simply a sad fact of animal life.

4. Animals do not by nature wage war or bear grudges. They wanna eat, that's about it. Essentially, a newborn doggie or kitty or gerbil is not out to nuke the different-colored other-coated dog or religion. Doggies are lovers, not haters. So "Survivor Puppy Island" would be pretty uncompelling, politics-wise. Though incredibly cute.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Free Cars in Hell

I was reviewing for deletion or archival perhaps 50 VoIP voicemails today on my main computer (conveniently forwarded to me by Lingo as wav files attached to e-mails). Basically, trying to dig up a little extra disk space on the olde harde drive. (As you are well aware, 120 gigabytes fill up way too fast . . . . Remember when a 1.2 meg 5.25 inch floppy disk was a miracle? When a floppy actually could FLOP? We inhabit an era of orders-of-magnitude future shock. Plus the spare new 300-gig drive I just installed wants a BIOS upgrade on my truly ancient 2-year-old primo computer, just to be able to use more than 127 GB. But the upgrade requires writing a bootable CD-R that for some reason is not up to the task.) However, I have sufficiently digressed.

So this one message that turned up caught my fancy. A promotion that somehow slipped through the federal no-call block list I heartily support as a consumer (and, as a Upoc employee, compartmentalize from the marketing activities of my employer). It offered a cool deal in its pre-recorded spiel, starting with six powerful words, "Hi! We're giving away free cars!" Well, as it happens, I have barely one month left on a 4-year lease, so "free cars" caught my attention. Shit. Wheels is wheels. And free is fantastic. So I listened on . . .

This is the entire transcript, spoken by an earnest young female, word for word:

(I have naturally attached the original audio, for your legal pleasure.)

"Hi! We're giving away free cars! Yes, you heard it right. We're willing to give you a brand new car for free! This is not a lottery or any kind of trick.

"Where's the catch? Nowhere! You simply get to drive it with our advertising on it and keep the brand new free car for two years. There is more. We will pay you to do that! You could make between $400 and $3,200 a month, just to drive around, minding your business, the same way you're doing it every day. In fact, you're doing it right now . . . not even knowing that you could actually get paid for it!

"If you don't want a brand new free car, we can put our vinyl in movable advertising on your existing car. If the one you already own is a little beat up, then you will get to pimp your ride and you're on your way, looking good! (As long as you're making between 800 and 4,000 miles a month.)

"Our cars are all covered in colorful vinyl removable advertising and look really cool.

"If this is not a good deal, well, we don't know what else is. In order to sign up, please log onto our website at WWW - FREECARFREECASH - dot -COM.


and in various inflections,


increased earnisty:


That is then followed by a somewhat embarrassed, terse, "Thank you," and a speech-synthesized, "GOODBYE".

Laurel, in typical lickety-split fashion, clicked off to the Web site and read the fine print aloud. Considering, we sorta realized we accumulate. . . um, not exactly four thousand, but rather maybe four, just four, miles a month. "How far is it to the Wendy's?" I asked Laurel.

"Damn, we really might not qualify," thought I in abject depression, while visualizing one end of the colorful car up on blocks, spinning the driving wheels to rack the odometer.

Then we both said, in typical synchronicity, "Who else of our close friends and loved ones might benefit from this incredible offer?"

Oh, of course, Biggo, the brother of my ExGF. Plug in his zip code -- 29401 . . . "Congratulations!" came back the Web reply. "The FreeCar finder has found programs available in your area." Wow, this is cool. All my relatives, gainfully employed.

Say. How about, Petey, the brother of . . . of ME. In the middle of the Arizona desert. Try that zip. 85212 . . . "Congratulations!" again.

So then the light began to break over the mental horizon. ZIP code? Rip code! Is no ZIP sacred?

Plug in 66666. (No way 66666 is a legitimate zip, right?)

The Internet paused but a nanosecond. "Congratulations!"

Just to confirm, ever for authenticity, Laurel checked the Web for the geographical location of 66666 and -- big surprise -- it was not listed. Ah ha!

So then we knew. The progenitor of this incredible offer was none other than the D-man, himself, Sir Satan. And that sexy voicemail was left by Satan's Secretary. (Mmmm, I'll bet she's hot!)

Free cars? Oh yeah!

Just As We Thought.

Monday, July 25, 2005

What are the odds?

We live in a charmingly funky part of Brooklyn, not quite Flatbush, not Crown Heights, definitely not as stuck-up as Park Slope. It's a neighborhood where it's rude not to say 'Hi' to passers-by or 'Good Morning' to your neighbors. Where cute 3-year-olds hang out on the sidewalk while their mothers work in the braiding salons. Where folks compliment your tree pit flower garden; and others drop bottle caps into it. It is a neighborhood rich with cultures. And often rich with noise, from Friday night stoop parties, to booming window-rattling ghettocruisers, to summer firecrackers, to car-alarm-triggering thundercycles, to the dollar-vans hurtling up and down Flatbush Avenue who serenade with sour air horns trumpeting the theme from The Godfather, to Mr. Softee trucks driving you up the wall with their relentless ditty torture.

Anyway, oh yeah, The Odds. . .

So this morning I am trotting up Flatbush, heading for the Subway, late for work as usual, when, approaching from the north I espy not only a minority male Caucasian, but one walking what I would swear is a Tibetan Terrier.

Now, back when I lived in Manhattan for all those years, this kind of encounter had become, in the 1990s, a pleasant, but increasingly frequent experience. Harrigan came into my life in early 1989 and we felt for many years like breed pioneers, while the rest of the cool people caught up. Still, the companionship was more important than the exclusivity.

At this point, I must comment on the strange process that compels one to identify a TT from a distance. There is clearly some primitive part of the brain that assimilates one's perception of the physical characteristics of a crucial species, when primed by the excreted endocrine that determines: "Live or Die, Love or Wither". My brother and I grew up with the uncanny ability to identify, from a mere swoosh or tailfin, any American automobile make, model and year from 1954 to 1980; not to mention many European creations. This must have been crucial to the survival of our forebears, Nascar fans all, I presume.

Moreover, I have extended this ability to breeds one might encounter walking around an Upper West Side Manhattan block, dog run, or possibly even Westminster. The latter ability certainly developed from my ex-gf's and my search back in the 80's for "the perfect dog". To cut a long tale short, we realized that Tibetan Terriers were really cool: laid-back, bred for personality, intelligent, always playful, spiritual, came in many colors, not too big, not too small. . . simply, perfect. The AKC thumbnail description says, "The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, profusely coated, of powerful build, and square in proportion. A fall of hair covers the eyes and foreface. The well-feathered tail curls up and falls forward over the back. The feet are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The Tibetan Terrier is well balanced and capable of both strong and efficient movement." Yet they don't even mention the g-d Tibetan monks responsible for it all.

Having raised Harry from a mere slip of a pup, it was funny and impressive to see him develop into the "powerful build and square proportion". What a truly apt description that is: a TT manages to combine poofiness and powerful squareness into a single package. I was constantly amazed by his sure-footed cavorting over the alpine furniture peaks and valleys of the living room. One of my favorite moments as he matured, limbs growing towards greyhoundness, was the incident, while doing his high-speed puppy cruise into the living room under tables onto to the couch and its backrest altitudes, when he swooped beneath the coffee table and, for the very first time, bumped his head. Ha! Sucks to grow up, doesn't it?

Even now, at sixteen years of age and trimmed of all that annoying matted fur into a strange summer-puppy-saluki-cut, it is amusing to see his defiant stance, front elbows sticking out like an anorectic Popeye the Sailor, as he anticipates the customary "which hand?" game and subsequent cookie reward.

Oh, did I digress? Again? Apologies!

So I approach this guy on Flatbush Avenue and his dog with the old, "Excuse me, but isn't that a Tibetan Terrier?" line. And he looks at me with serious New York City mistrust, "Yes, it is. How do you know?" And I go into the usual, "Well I have one too. He's sixteen years old now. We live on Fenimore Street."

And he says, "Why haven't I seen you walking him here?"

To which I counter, "Well, we walk him in the yard. Sixteen years old, y'know." [What I don't say is, one of the main reasons we decided not to walk him on the street is the incredible amount of chickenbonez. What is it that people can toss their stripped bonez like popsicle sticks? It was bad enough on the Upper West Side with random bagels and foie gras; drove Harry bonkers. But here on Chickenbone Alley (I mean Fenimore Street) he'd be absolutely impossible to deal with.]

So we discuss where our dogs came from -- both Pennsylvania it turns out, though Harry was Rocky Hills Farm and the newcomer was somewhere else -- I don't remember, Somerset county? I mentioned Harry's breeder's name, Harrigan by coincidence, but it rang no bells. This other dog's name was Chip.

So I greeted him, let him sniff my hand briefly then patted his head. He was the usual, "Yah, you're a human and I will acknowledge your attention, even make you feel a little loved, but you really are interrupting my round-the-block with my buddy who thinks he's my master. Be thankful I don't bite you. Just kidding. You're okay." Plus, I was late for work.

So I made motions to plunge ahead into the day. I confirmed I lived on Fenimore, and he, on Rutland. He never really smiled, but this was more like an UWS encounter than a Lefferts Gardens one. I figured, when we needed to establish any further contact, we could stake out the corner around 9:00 AM and take it from there. Plus I prefer to leave all that really human contact stuff to Laurel. She does it so much better.

So anyway. . . what the hell are the odds?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Harry Peruses Art

Party Time

I've been saving this picture for the right moment and I think it is upon us: Harry celebrates an anniversary at a garden party. He is, after all, a party dog. (Not to play, of course, on the AKC parti-colored breeds; though he sports both brindle and turquoise, especially after Hillary’s inspirational work with watercolor markers.)
Anyway, here is Harry, in the lap of luxury, that of his natural human mother: Hillary, who raised him from a pup.
The white object standing on a pole in the background is a Manhattan bus stop sign procured after an East Side automobile accident. The gilt object of Harry’s desire (or at least mine) was a street find passed on from friends June & Edmund. Cig accent: True Green 100.