Berkeley – Ghost in the Machine Haunting the Web Since 1999 Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:27:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Berkday 17. Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:11:51 +0000

A very happy 17th birthday to the Berk-man. GitM’s original ombudsdog — three years gone but still in our hearts. I bet even Murf misses you sometime, li’l buddy, and I hope they have ham and cheese croissants on the rainbow bridge.

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Berkday 16. Thu, 25 Feb 2016 18:05:40 +0000

Pour some bacon, haribo cherries, and sundry other treats out for those who are no longer with us. Today would have been Berk’s sixteenth birthday. RIP old friend.

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Berkday 15. Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:50:32 +0000

Today would have been Berk’s fifteenth birthday. Rest easy, old friend.
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Berkday 14. Tue, 25 Feb 2014 14:41:34 +0000
Today would have been Berk’s fourteenth birthday. I don’t believe in an afterlife — the end is The End, so enjoy it while it lasts — and if there is some sort of Rainbow Bridge out there, I expect Berk would probably be trying to base-jump off it regardless. So, when it comes to life after death, my memories and this here Interweb will have to do.

With that in mind, happy b-day, old man. The apartment’s too quiet without you.

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R.I.P. Berkeley 2000-2014. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 19:33:36 +0000
Yesterday morning, two weeks before his 14th birthday, Berkeley and I went to the vet. This was just for a check-up and a bordetella vaccine, and Berk seemed chipper as always — He was always especially happy and excited when we broke our morning routine to venture somewhere else. I told the vet that I was actually surprised by the good health he’d been in. Since the bad bite and lost toe in 2012, Berk had been the picture of vitality — Just the night before, we’d played a solid half-hour of “apartment Frisbee.” From what they could tell, the vet agreed — they said his heart seemed normal, his movement lively, his disposition upbeat, his joie de vivre intact. He did have an ear infection in one ear, so they gave me some topical meds for that. I took him home, applied them, scratched him behind his ear, and went to work.

Yesterday evening, I came home from work to find Berk splayed out on the floor, dead for many hours. (His body seemed like it was in a violent position – legs up, head half under the couch. But now that I think about it, what probably happened is he died on the couch, hopefully sleeping, and his body fell off sometime later — hence the contortion when the rictus sent in.) My friend Arjun and I carried his corpse downstairs and drove it to the vet for cremation. In the space of ten hours, he’s gone from being happy to just being gone. Looking out at the snow everywhere this morning, I can’t help but think that this is the type of day he would have loved.

The shock of it all notwithstanding, I know that this a pretty fortunate way for the old man to go. He was happy and in good health — still able to jump to his perch on the table whenever he wanted, still interested in smelling things and exploring the world, still eager for a bite or three of whatever I was having for dinner — on the day he died. Neither of us had to go through the long fade, as it were. And, y’know, he would have been fourteen in two weeks: We had an amazing run together. I knew this day was coming sometime in the relatively near future. I just thought — and hoped — it wouldn’t be today. What do we say to the God of Death? Not today. But today — or yesterday — it was. And now his watch is ended, his perch is empty.

Berkeley was born on February 25th, 2000. My ex-wife and I got him on May 15 of that year. We knew we wanted a sheltie, and I had seen a Mother’s Day sale for them out near Harper’s Ferry. We ended up seeing three or four pups in a barn — three brown-eyed shelties barking and licking our hand, and one blue-eyed one, watching us silently from afar. I knew right away I wanted the introvert.

My ex-wife and I divorced the following year, in 2001. I knew I wanted Berk and gave up all our other (very few) common possessions — Berk coming with me was never really in doubt. And for the next twelve+ years, he was my constant companion and power animal. We’d walk the streets of New York and DC together, spend the weekends in Riverside and Central Park, Dupont Circle and the Mall, and days and nights just hanging around the pad — him circling or on watch.

There was a year or two of grad school there where Berk was the only living entity I had consistent contact with. I remember at least twice in our time together, when I was devastated after a scorched-earth break-up and the general despair of the long-term PhD process, where the only thing I could do for days was stagger around my apartment sobbing, clutching a half-gallon of water so I didn’t completely dry out. Berk would dutifully follow me around, tail wagging, and lick my face dry when I got in a place where he could reach me. Despair or no, there was salt to be had here.

He was a great dog. Lived happy until the day he died.

And he was my best friend. I can think of a lot of times when he felt like my only friend.

RIP, little buddy. I’ll miss you.

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I Don’t Normally Bark Like Cujo… Wed, 13 Nov 2013 18:25:14 +0000
…but when I do, there’s probably in-line skates, skateboards, Segways, or Ranger the Australian sheepdog (Berk’s neighborhood nemesis, the Joker to his Batman, snake to his mongoose, etc. etc.) involved. I put this up on Twitter/Facebook last week, but for the GitM-inclined, here’s Berkeley, nearing 14 this February, cultivating his Most Interesting Dog in the World cachet. Stay thirsty, my friend.

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Take Berk Out to the Ball Game. Tue, 17 Sep 2013 17:19:42 +0000
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can help them pick up a new pastime or two. On account of Pups in the Park night at Nats Park, Berk got to take in his first MLB game Saturday night: Phillies over Nats, 5-4. FWIW, he seemed to quite enjoy the experience, most notably all the many other dogs around and the bag of peanuts in the seat in front of him. The folding chairs, not so much.

His Watch Continues. Tue, 11 Jun 2013 20:32:11 +0000
Quiet around here the past fortnight or so — sorry, busy as ever. In recompense, and since there’s been very little dog-blogging in recent months, here’s Maester Berk yesterday, maintaining his watch on the Wall…er, Table. Canine Dohaeris.

Eyes of the Tiger. Fri, 24 May 2013 20:49:27 +0000
“No one should deny themselves their own weirdness. Calvin is never afraid to boldly declare his weirdness, even when doing so results in his classmates ostracizing him and his teachers and parents disciplining him. To act any other way, to be any other person, is an option that never even enters his head.”

10 Life Lessons from Calvin & Hobbes. A bit cloying at times, but hey, the world always needs more posts about Calvin & Hobbes. Also, if you can’t imagine yourself a tiger buddy for these, a crazy sheltie will also do.

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“As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia’s capital city…Taking the subway is just one of many tactics the strays have come up with for surviving in the manmade wilderness around them. ‘The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest,’ says Poyarkov. ‘These clever dogs know people much better than people know them.'”

ABC News takes a gander at the subway dogs of Moscow, who, for reasons of survival, seem to have figured out the system better than most tourists. “Moscow’s strays have also been observed obeying traffic lights, says Vereshchagin…Sometimes a pack will send out a smaller, cuter member apparently realizing it will be more successful at begging than its bigger, less attractive counterparts.”

In very related news, a new study finds that, since domestication many moons ago, dogs and humans have been evolving along parallel lines. “The study shows that dogs split from gray wolves about 32,000 years ago, and that since then, domestic dogs’ brains and digestive organs have evolved in ways very similar to the brains and organs of humans…They found both species underwent similar changes in genes responsible for digestion and metabolism, such as genes that code for cholesterol transport.” This must be the reason Berk loves him some gummi candy.

Happy Berk Mitzvah. Mon, 25 Feb 2013 16:38:27 +0000

Berkeley, GitM’s resident Sheltie-American sidekick and ombudsdog, is thirteen today. [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.5.] In lieu of pictures, I took this video over the weekend with my phone. Not all that interesting, but it does capture the circling, random barking, and street watching that comprises much of the old man’s day. Happy b-day, little fella.

The Hound Abides. Wed, 12 Sep 2012 03:41:28 +0000
Since it’s been awhile, some gratuitous dogblogging of the old man in his natural habitat. For all the ways this year has sucked, I’m deeply thankful that the early-year health hiccups are past, and Berk’s still got his puppy energy and general joie de vivre. Shine on you crazy diamond.

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Attack of the Furry Stomach. Sat, 11 Aug 2012 01:42:33 +0000

‘Quite frankly, his behavior is abhorrent,’ said Gardner, who emphasized that Digby does nothing to provide for the Chambers family, subsisting entirely on free handouts. ‘This asshole’s chowing down like he’s in a pie-eating contest. Meanwhile, the nation’s credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in history, and everyone’s fucking job is moving overseas. And he does know we’re fighting a war, too, right? Unbelievable.’

My favorite Onion piece in a few moons: Pet Eating Like Country Isn’t In Goddamn Recession. “According to reports, the 5-year-old labrador appears callously unswayed by the constant stream of gloomy market forecasts and instead demands greater and greater supplies of dog food, to the point where he must think the Dow Jones industrial average is soaring through the fucking roof or something.

The Ghost Rises? Thu, 19 Jul 2012 17:29:58 +0000

Actually, no, not yet. But I wanted to quickly explain the reason for the retro-look around here, and since tonight is also the movie event of the summer, it seemed like a good time for a brief update regardless. (All apologies to The Avengers, of course. If it’s any consolation to Whedon’s fine film, the “movie event of the year” will be The Hobbit in December. And at least you were great fun and not a half-assed disappointment like Prometheus.)

Anyway, life continues much as it has this past age. I work, Berk — fully recovered, minus one toe — barks at things. We’re leading a pretty solitary existence these days — hello, 2007 again — and it has its depressing moments, to be sure. But we’re getting by.

The good news is, and the reason why I won’t be returning to GitM for now, is that I’ve spent pretty much all my free time these past few months cracking out my long-neglected dissertation. At this point, I’ve got ten chapters and 800 pages written, which, I’ve been informed, is more than enough to defend for the degree. (I defend this fall.) But since I’ve finally come this far, I want to push through until I complete the project in its intended scope — which means four more chapters and, assuming a productive August recess, probably at least two-to-three more months of working evenings and weekends to go. When that’s finally done, I’ll be more inclined to reconnect with the world at large and take up the Ghost once more.

(And, yes, I know that nobody wants to read 800+ pages on progressives in the Twenties, or for that matter, 800+ pages on anything. I also know that all the time I’ve spent on this would probably have been better served just writing bondage-y Twilight fan fiction. Oh well.)

The bad news is, along with a gunfight breaking out above my head last weekend, the forces of entropy have conspired to infect the old blog here with some sort of google-hit-stealing malware. This has made the Google wrathful, and it has banished this poor, lowly Ghost to the unclicked shadowlands with the other leprous websites. It’s my fault — MT was way out-of-date. I was going to have it updated this past winter, along with a general overhaul of the look of the site. But the old blog-“friend” I hired to do the job took my money and then disappeared with it. (That turned out to be the opening salvo of the frozen-run-of-luck that precipitated this whole “interregnum of despair” around here.)

Anyway, in order to root out the infection, I’ve upgraded to MT 5, rolled back to the default templates, and rebuilt the site — Hopefully this finally does the trick and Google takes us back. If it does, and when I have the time, I’ll work on gradually fixing up the look of the Ghost again. (That is, presuming I learn to master all the intricacies of the non-coder-unfriendly new Movable Type. (Zemanta? What the?)) Until then, thanks for the patience and understanding, have fun in Gotham this weekend, and thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Update: Still on the wrong side of Google, and running out of ideas at this point. And my host — the once reliable Cornerhost — appears to have fallen off the Earth. So I guess, first things first, I’ll have to move everything to a more reliable host. If anyone has any keen infection-fighting ideas, please do pass them along. Otherwise, I’ll see ya when I have time to sort all this out.

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On Walkabout. Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:26:30 +0000

Hey all. I know it’s been quiet ’round these parts — sorry about that. It’s been a tough year so far. Berk has had to deal with a nasty dog bite back in February and, now, what looks to be cancer. (He’s getting his toe amputated tomorrow — Hopefully, that’ll contain the bug.) Also in February, I had an 18-month romance implode rather disastrously. I thought we’d be going the distance…but, before disappearing, the ex made sure to convey she never actually took the relationship seriously in the first place. Er…good to know. (Yes, I know this sort of thing has happened to me before. What can I say? Either I’m too sensitive, or else I’m getting soft.)

Anyway, the upshot is there’s not much joy in Mudville these days, and I’m just not feeling very inclined to post here. I can’t really talk about politics because (1) it interferes with my current employ and (2) when you get right down to it, I find it hard to take presidential politics seriously as a vehicle for (hope-and-)change these days (although I’m sure it’s a great way to get your name on a NASCAR car.) I can’t really talk about personal matters because that’s just plain unsightly, and the Internet really doesn’t need any more TMI kvetching about first world problems. Nor, quite frankly, does it need to know what I thought of 21 Jump Street and Mass Effect 3 and the new Prometheus viral campaign and the like.

I’m not saying the Ghost is dead and buried, but I don’t see it coming back online regularly anytime soon: With the exception of the occasional comment-spam clear, the old hound and I are on walkabout for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the archives are here and here, and all the old movie reviews are here. If you’ve been swinging by the site at any time for the past 12+ years, apologies for the service outage and thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Update: Thanks for all the well-wishes in the comments. As a follow-up, Berk has lost the toe, but the offending infection has, per the lab report, been “completely excised.” Meanwhile, after several weeks in the cone, the old hound is back to moving around normally and otherwise seems in good health. Squirrels and skateboarders, beware.

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At Eleven, Still a Workin’ Dog. Fri, 25 Feb 2011 12:23:47 +0000

A dogblogging aside; Berkeley, GitM’s longtime resident ombudsheltie, is eleven years old this morning. [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.] As you can see from the pics, he’s celebrating the day by hanging around the office. (Hey, it’s tough out there for an old dog — It was either this or greeting at Wal-Mart.) Happy b-day, little buddy.

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We’ll see how smart you are when the K-9 comes… Tue, 18 Jan 2011 17:07:10 +0000

Chaser proved to be a diligent student. Unlike human children, she seems to love her drills and tests and is always asking for more. ‘She still demands four to five hours a day,” Dr. Pilley said. “I’m 82, and I have to go to bed to get away from her.‘”

The NYT tells the tale of Chaser, a border collie with a vocabulary of over 1000 words now. “Dr. Pilley said that most border collies, with special training, ‘could be pretty close to where Chaser is.’…Dr. Horowitz agreed: ‘It is not necessarily Chaser or Rico who is exceptional; it is the attention that is lavished on them,” she said.’” (Sorry, Berk…At least I taught you bacon and tacos — you know, the important stuff.)

AT-ATta Boy! Tue, 29 Jun 2010 13:09:47 +0000 General Veers, prepare your troops for a surface…trip to the dog park. In case you missed this in the Twitter feed, the All-Terrain Armored Transport finally gets a day in the sun in a well-constructed short, AT-AT Day Afternoon. I get the sense Berk would prefer this companion to the old, now-defunct apartment droid.

A Decade of Berk. Thu, 25 Feb 2010 14:32:14 +0000
As of today, Berkeley — GitM’s ombudsdog and my roommate, power animal, and all-around sheltie-american enabler — is now ten years old [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

After one does the dog-to-human-year conversion, that puts him at exactly twice my age. Here’s hoping I’m as spry, convivial, good-natured, and slightly deranged when I reach his years. Happy b-day, l’il buddy.

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Snowpocalypse Now. Sat, 06 Feb 2010 10:33:44 +0000

Snowpocalypse last December was only the beginning. Now, it’s Snomageddon. (And unfortunately, I uncorked all my tauntaun jokes back in 2003.) Anyway, yeah, we in DC have taken a massive snow hit — at least 2 feet already — and it’s still coming down strong.

As you can see from the pics above and below, at least Berk‘s been having great fun with it, although he may feel differently if I take him to the 2pm Dupont shootout.

Update: It’s all fun and games until somebody bruises their brain. While the snowball fight was great fun (and a hearty gratz to New Awlins), slipping on the ice while walking Berk later that evening was less so. So I’ve been suffering a (hopefully) minor concussion since Saturday, which mainly means I’ve been lying on the couch with a headache, playing low-intensity xBox games like Lego Batman and Mass Effect while the snow falls. Only one night of nausea, fever, and other nasty symptoms, tho’, so hopefully by this point, I’m on the mend.

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