Many of you already know that we lost Bugsy on Monday.  He was 14 years old and we will miss him terribly.  We had reached out to friends and family who knew him and loved him too and they’ve all taken it about as hard as we have.  That’s been a comfort to know he touched and brought so much joy to so many others as well.  We always joked that Bugsy had a wider social circle than we did but there was actually quite a bit of truth in that.

Jennifer got Bugsy almost on a whim in 1997.  She’d been thinking about it for some time but really hadn’t actively looked for a pug.  She’d had a really bad supervision at her internship and needed to cheer herself up so she went to look at pug puppies — with her check book.   I suppose it was inevitable that one of those wild little monsters would make it home with her.  He bonded with her immediately following her everywhere and way too close like an imprinted duckling.

Bugsy as a puppy in North Carolina by all accounts was exceptionally crazed even by pug puppy standards. The dominant streak combined with his high intelligence and mischievousness made for lots of infuriating and amusing moments.  She tells me how hard he was to contain behind baby gates that he would manage to scale.  Or the times he would slip out and she’d spend two hours trying to round him up and get him back inside.  You’d get within a foot of him, all wild-eyed and smiling, and he’d dart off in a manic pug circle and stop again waiting for you to make another try.

But he helped her through internship and writing dissertation, forcing her to stop and play and walk the dog.  I haven’t been through the grad school grind but those who have tell how lonely and grueling it is.  Bugsy was there and forced her to have some desperately needed balance.  Even at a young age he was making the decisions and teaching us.  With Bugsy, training meant either making him think something was a game or his idea.  Often things were, in fact, his idea and he was just training all of us to catch on.

He was a little over 3 when she moved here in 2000 for her post-doc job and she and I became re-acquainted and started dating. It is not an exaggeration to say that if Bugsy and I had not gotten along and formed a bond that our relationship might not have eventually progressed to marriage.  We have dozens of early pictures of Bugsy sitting behind and above me or on top of my back, licking my head.  He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was here first.

Late that year, I did him the honor of getting him his own German Shepherd puppy — at least that’s the way he saw it.  We introduced them outside of my mid-city house because he had claimed that location as his own and we needed to introduce him on neutral territory.  We have some pictures of them on the front lawn at their first meeting, Bugsy grinning ear-to-ear at his new pup who at 8 weeks was already almost as large as him.

Callie and Bugsy first meet

Throughout his life Callie deferred to him.  No matter how large she got, he could take a bone literally right out of her mouth if he so desired it.  We taught her a game called, “put something in your mouth besides Bugsy.” So she’d grab a toy and they’d tear back and forth through the shotgun house with Bugsy nipping at yelling at her.  They both loved it.  And we laughed.  Laughter was a constant theme with Bugsy around.

Christmas 2002 in our old Mid City house. Callie and Bugsy

Jennifer and I were married in 2004.  Bugsy thought this a right fine idea and was all too happy to accommodate a second husband.    Some of my all time favorite photos of that day are of him approaching her sitting on a chair in the back room, jumping up next to her, getting a good chin rub and just posing and grinning obviously having a great time hanging out with his Momma looking gorgeous in her wedding gown.

Wedding Day 2004

Man did that dog love to be photographed.  Even the pictures he’s not supposed to be in, he’s often in.  He loved to wear costumes because he recognized they brought yet more attention and tasty treats.  Barkus was one of the highlights of each year.  He was fearless and approached everyone and simply assumed that they were there to meet and visit with him and that he was a part of it.  He wasn’t insecure in his attention seeking, he just assumed that he was involved in all things and that people were there at least in part to be with him.  He was, of course, right.  He taught them how to play his games.

And then in 2005 Katrina struck, the levees broke, and our home flooded.  We had evacuated to our best friends’ home Jackson.  Within the first week fellow evacuee Jimbo drove down and took both Callie and Toby (the cat) to Jennifer’s parents in KY.  Callie would end up living on the farm for 15 months.  Bugsy, stayed with us.  That was non-negotiable as we bounced from place to place. He taught us to laugh through tears and brought us great comfort during those dark days.  He was our little rock of stability, one of the main reasons we survived that time without completely losing our minds.  ”It’s ok to cry, but hey guys..we still need to go for walk in the park..and watch me go after this Great Dane!”  Bugsy earned a special place in doggie Heaven for getting us through that time and the yearlong life rebuild that followed.

Bugsy playing with Ryan & Rachel during Katrina evacuation 2005

Bugsy aged quite gracefully.  His health issues as he grew older were relatively mild.  He remained vigorous and joyful and playful.  Young pug is fun and hilarious, but old pug was just amazing to behold.  While he was always adaptable, he really loved his various routines.  He was crazy smart with a massive vocabulary.  He was a big talker and an amazing communicator.  You never had to guess at what he wanted.  He loved watching TV (Hotel for Dogs, Winged Migration, Meerkat Manor deserved oscars in his mind) often chasing running dogs off the screen to the edge which was next to our back door.  He’d be convinced our back yard was full of dogs, barnacle geese and meerkats.

We were conscious of his aging despite the minimal signs of any decline.  We decided to get Wyatt Earp via French Bulldog Rescue Network before he’d gotten too much older.  We figured they’d get along well but we were surprised just how much they bonded to one another.

Tight Like This

As I said, we were really conscious of his age and we made sure he got plenty of chances to do all the things he enjoyed. We took a couple of Kayak trips this fall. He was just crazy about riding in the Kayak.

Son of a gun we gonna have big fun on the Bayou.

We took him with us to d.b.a on Sundays.  He loved “going to the bar” because that was on opportunity be around lots of people and meet them — especially ladies.  We’d get up to dance and he’d sit on the chair at “our” table and chill and perhaps make a few friends.  We’ve lost count of how many times he’s been photographed by strangers at dba.

In the window booth at dba

His last day was a perfectly normal, happy pug kinda day.  We got up and read the Sunday paper on the couch with him draped over “daddy leg” as he liked to do on Sunday paper days.   He joined Wyatt a few times in front window patrol.   I gave them both a bath later that day and happened to take a slightly blurry photo of them both in the tub.  After the bath he ran around “naked” without his collar on in manic circles as he always did and demanded a cookie for the performance.   He hung out with us later that night as we watched TV.

We woke suddenly at 2:30am to Bugsy experiencing a massive seizure.  I pulled him off the bed onto the floor and tried to soothe and calm him.  Jennifer held him.  He did, unfortunately, wake for a bit and we could see the fear and confusion in his face.  But we were able to comfort him until consciousness slipped away again.  Jennifer held him in the back seat as I drove to the emergency clinic in Metairie with him convulsing the entire time. We knew.  They put enough drugs in him to take down Callie and that finally stopped the seizure.  His temperature had spiked somewhere north of 106 and stayed there for quite a while.  His seizure had gone on for well over an hour.

We picked him up from the emergency vet and took him to our regular vet office.  Jennifer got to hold him in the car.  We were both surprised at how calm and composed we were the entire time.  It was our turn, just this once, to take care of him and comfort him.  We were glad that this hadn’t happened while we were at work with him alone and that we could do that for him.

It was a waiting game to see how he would be once he woke up from the effects of the event and the drugs. The vets were checking every 15 minutes. The whole time his lungs sounded clear and his heart was strong. His heart was always strong.  Sometime around 2pm between 15 minute rounds he stopped breathing.  Whatever had happened to his brain was simply too much.   And in that Bugsy spared us agonizing decisions.   As ever, he made the decision for us. He still managed to take care of us.

It’s going to take some time to move forward.  The house is so much quieter.  Coming home without that face in the window and greeting at the door was rough.  But little Wyatt was there behind his little gate and he’s getting his bearings along with us without his “rudder”.  He will never be forgotten and deeply missed.  We were so blessed and privileged to share our lives with him.  He provided us a thousand wonderful memories filled with laughter… sneaking up behind the homeless guy at the park and drinking his “coffee”, screeching with delight as we’d ask “wanna go to the bar?” or “wanna go kayak?”, frantically trying to stop him from peeing on the people chairs at City Bark (with people IN them)..and failing..I could go on and on.  As the subject of Jennifer’s email to family and friends stated Monday: “The King has left the building.”  With no doubt there will be many other dogs throughout our life, but there will only be one Bugsy, as anyone else who knew and loved this dog can attest to.

Bugsy's such a ham.

Bugsy and Toby in the sun spot

Nola City Bark Opening Day

We attended the opening day of Nola City Bark with our rescue Frenchie Wyatt Earp and our pug Bugsy.  We had a great time as did the little dogs. As one owner said, “I’m not sure who is happier here, the dogs or their people.”  I put together the video below and set it to Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing”.  Watch it and smile along.

Nola City Bark Opening Day from Scott Harney on Vimeo.

Sometimes it’s the big things, like the Saints winning the Super Bowl and electing a new mayor.  Other times, it’s the little things.  Katie’s in Mid-City has finally reopened.  Jennifer and I had our rehearsal dinner there in 2004.

Who Dat!!!!

Elation.  Jubilation. Pandemonium. Ecstasy.  Bedlam. Delirium. Joy.

There’s no English word in existence to convey the emotion of the people in this city and this region after the Saints win in Super Bowl XLIV.  I want to capture and keep it and take it out every once in a while when I need it.  So this post will have to suffice as preservation of the memory of an unforgettable experience.

The day began with our annual Barkus parade pilgrimage.  This was Bugsy’s ninth outing and Wyatt’s first.  The “Tailgate” theme was of course tied to the Saints.  The French Quarter was packed as it seemed that is many people poured into New Orleans for the Super Bowl as Miami.  Barkus’ short walking route actually crosses Bourbon which was solid with people so I had to pick up Bugsy. My favorite moment was holding him up to push through the crush as he scowled and started swatting at people passing by with his front paws.

We decided to make the day a neighborhood night, going to the nearby Bridge Lounge to take it in.  They were taking donations for Doctors Without Borders for Haiti and serving free food all night. Sounded like a great deal to us so we joined the packed crowd inside and took seats in the rear.

Spirits were high and cheering, Who Datting and dancing broke out even before the kick off.  The first half was tense as initially Manning picked us apart to take a 10-0 lead and our offense couldn’t get anything going.  But we started driving and things started getting riled up a bit with people cheering every offensive play of every drive.  The guy in front of me at one point asked if we were local because he thought we were too quiet and subdued.  I explained to him that we were in fact local and that I wasn’t subdued; I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t believe we were here and there was this growing realization that we were going to take this thing.

And then came the onside kick to open the second half. Things just went wild from that point on.  We were screaming at every play of every drive like it was a near touchdown. Watching Drew push that offense methodically, decisively down the field was just amazing.  And you could just feel that we had the thing.

And finally Manning, like Farve before him, made his mistake. And Porter, for the second time, made the pick except this time it went all the way in to put us up by two touchdowns. It was very hard to watch the game after that.  Just sitting here writing about it and I can feel my pulse quicken and the adrenaline rush in.  We danced and sang and screamed and knew that tonight would be unlike any other in New Orleans.

We made sure to stay and watch the trophy presentation and let the tears come as Brees held up his son Baylen. Because, after all, this was always about much more than football.  After that there was only one thing to do. The same thing all of New Orleans and all of Southern Louisiana and Mississippi wanted to do — take to the streets and share this moment with everyone else who understood and felt like we did.

I can’t really describe the night. I hugged more strangers than I could ever have imagined.  We danced and sang and marveled as NOPD blocked off downtown from Poydras to Rampart to Esplanade and the River as people just poured into the city.  As someone said, we don’t burn cars here, we dance on ‘em!  New Orleans is a town known for celebrating life, the moment and its culture and traditions, but this was all that and more.  We had just elected a new mayor the day before by a huge margin.  Something has changed.   This was always about so much more than a game.

Here are my pics from the evening.  And here is Barkus and as a bonus, my pics from the NFC Championship game.  I’ll post more of my own videos from that night and the parade two days later soon.

This is by far my favorite video of the post-game party in the streets. This is Uptown on Magazine.

Saints Superbowl Victory Celebration from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

This video, which accompanies this ESPN column is by far the best explanation I can find to put this Saints season into context.  Also, this editorial by Richard Campanella is required reading.

Next, here is Drew Brees at Lucy’s in the Warehouse District after the parade, teaching the patrons a pre-game warmup chant:

Last but not least, here’s my own video of Super Bowl night, first from the Bridge Lounge in the Lower Garden and then heading down into the Quarter after the game:

I recently installed Linux Mint (ubuntu with some goodies) on a laptop and wanted an encrypted whole disk. In order for this to be truly secure, you need encrypted swap. Well most of the HOWTOs for encrypting swap use a randomized key. This breaks hibernate to disk for laptops because the linux kernel has no way to decrypt a randomized cipher (of course). So I referenced a separate howto and combined the two approaches. I can now hibernate to disk using an encrypted swap partition that is protected with a passphrase in the same as way as root and home partitions.

It should be apparent this howto is non-trivial.  The config file changes I supply in it are in diff -u format so this is deliberately written for a technical audience. My research indicates that there is some interest in getting this into distributions in a more elegant fashion, but that kind of deep integration takes time. I needed something that works for me now.

Anyway, here’s the link in the Linux Mint user forums:

WordPress upgrade

Well Twitter was all abuzz about a WordPress worm and sure enough a worm had been circulating attacking old versions of wordpress.  Well obviously I pretty much never post on this blog these days.   And wordpress is notorious for security issues.  This is partly due to the popularity of the product, partly due to problems with php itself, and probably partly due to some flaws in WordPress’s on code. But, to their credit, they update quickly and the word doess get out.  And, to their credit, upgrading was really simple despite the many customizations I have done.  So kudos to the wordpress team.  What I didn’t want was for this thing to get hacked and have spam links spread all through it and have it ruin my google search ranking.  So there it is.

On a more fun note, we’ve been spending the past year trying to learn to lindy hop.  Maybe someday we’ll get as good as this:

Paris

Over Thanksgiving, Jennifer and I took a weeklong vacation in Paris.  We’ve been talking about going for years and just put it off and put it off and finally just decided we had to go this year or we never would.  We haven’t been on a vacation together since 2004.

So we started planning to go in the off-season.  We watched for ticket deals on Kayak.com and kept our dates flexible.  We searched for hotels and found the Hotel des Grands Ecoles in the heart of the Latin Quarter.

Doing it this way made it far more reasonable. The flight didn’t cost any more than a flight to a lot of US destinations from New Orleans. After the exchange rate, the hotel didn’t cost us any more than a typical 8 night stay in a US hotel.

We hit Paris and really did get the most out of our week there. We walked the city from end to end. It was cold, of course, but we adjusted. We even got to see snow flurries on the Champs Elysees from the ferris wheel. We climbed all 704 steps to the second level of the Eiffel tower (and took the elevator ride on the final stretch to the top). We climbed the Notre Dame, too and hit the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, and explored the Catacombes.

And, of course, we ate. And we didn’t think twice about any of it. Foie Gras, cream, bread, desserts, whatever. In fact, we both managed to lose a couple of pounds.

One question we get asked a lot is if we were treated well. We were treated well and everyone was polite. Neither of us know French, but we learned a little bit — enough to be polite and greet people initially. The effort is appreciated. Because it’s the off-season, things weren’t so crowded and everyone was in a good mood. We were occasionally not recognized as tourists receiving French-only restaurant menus and being asked for directions more than once.

It’s definitely a trip we would recommend checking out. We took a TON of photos of course. I’ve labeled most of them with captions and all of them are geo-tagged so they can be viewed on a map. You can check out the entire set, starting here.

Yes We Can!

Wow.  Feel so happy about this day.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

-Abraham Lincoln

I sure hope my friends who feel so very differently today will eventually come to recognize that the better angels of our nature have indeed touched us this day.

In the Midst of the Financial Crisis

State Rep Labruzzo proposes a “voluntary” sterilization program to reduce future costs of social support programs.  When David Duke proposed the same thing back in 1991 while I was a young student at Ole Miss, my friends would ask me, “Hey aren’t you from Metairie?”  um. yeah. actually.  And it was terribly embarrassing. This is pretty much the same feeling but at least I no longer live in the district.

The main issue is that Labruzzo is, apparently, butt dumb.  He’s too dumb to even realize how dumb, racist, and ludicrous this “idea” is.  He  hasn’t even attempted to think his magical “idea” through.  Varg at the Chicory, has done the job for him in brilliant fashion. I’d like to hear him talk to fellow Republican and VP candidate Sarah Palin about this since she recently had a Down’s syndrome child that will ultimately require some government-provided social services.

Maybe we should require the CEOs of the big financial firms to get vasectomies since we are now proposing $700Bn of welfare for them.

All this reminds me of the Dead Kennedys classic, Kill the Poor. I don’t think Labruzzo would grasp the irony:

Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the neutron bomb
Its nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at homeThe sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Gonna
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rates gone
Feel free again
O lifes a dream with you, miss lily white
Jane fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals its okay
So lets get dressed and dance away the night

While they
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

Oh man, Texas got the X’s

So I was taking a look at chron.com, just to see how things were really going in TX and I came across this picture.

And I thought, “Oh, man, they got the X’s.”  Just reading that front page felt so familiar and looking through photos like the one above is just eerie.  I know there’s a lot going on with the financial market disasters and political theater, but there’s a helluva lot going on down in South LA and TX.




Scott Harney

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