Friday, March 21, 2014

Seattle

For the first time since September, Karl, Caro and I are on a plane bound for adventure.  This time were heading for Puget Sound and a visit with Gotten and PC.

So far it's between an uneventful trip. The plane is only 2/3 full, so everyone gets a window or an aisle seat.  Of course, we bears get a cushy spot tucked in among Karl's carry-on. 

Right now I'm sitting on top of his Google Glass, a clever device that combines camera, cell phone, web browser, computer, and monitor.  Later we'll upload photos of the day's travel.

Saturday note:  neither ASUS not Droid version of Blogger has a embed picture function.  Will try later through the browser.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

I'm terribly overdue for a blog post and last November I promised to tell you about our visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.  It was a blustery day with the sun ducking in and out of the clouds.  If it were warmer, we could've walked, but a taxi sufficed. 

Once we were inside the gardens, practically the first thing we saw were these enormous leaves... easily big enough to hold Big Schlepp and Herr Professor Bear.  Immediately a group of school girls saw me and I had my picture taken with all of them.


With the weather turning blustery, we thought we'd try the glass houses at the other corner of the gardens.  Our tickets got us entry into all 12 of them.  It wasn't a long walk and the entrance was the 120' high Palm House.  Truly amazing.  


One greenhouse led to another with wonderful plants in profusion.  Here is some variety of Spanish Moss and  a purple orchid. 


Farther along was an enormous indoor lily pond with 3' in diameter water lilies from Africa.  Beyond was a glass house with an entire forest of tree ferns.  


After we left, we wandered up the hill and had a light lunch before exploring the rest of the gardens.  On the way out, we discovered these lovely blooms.  


All in all, an exquisite day, even with the cold and wind, these gardens are not to be missed no matter what the season.  And in the worst of weather, the best is still the warm and beautiful glass houses.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Scotland

My apologies for not posting about my Scottish adventures earlier, but I've spent most of a month mollifying William of Yarmouth because he didn't go on this trip.  English bears, it seems, are not altogether welcome north of Hadrian's Wall.  That had something to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie and a little difference of opinion back in 1745. 

So back in September, Caro, Karl and I headed off to Edinburgh via first rate flights connecting through Houston and Newark.  Here I am enjoying a sip of Champagne before heading "across the pond" as they say.  I must say seating is much improved since the day we spent so much time flying to Vienna and such. 



We arrived in the Land of the Picts early in the morning, British Summer Time or seven hours off our internal clocks.  Since the hotel room wasn't yet available, we dropped off luggage, had a breakfast, and then set out for a stroll in the Scottish sunshine.  In the end we toured a lovely old graveyard and hiked up Calton Hill with its excellent views out over the city -- a wonderful way to get oriented to the city's features.  Here we are with the Edinburgh Castle in the background.  The prominent steeple is St. Gile's Cathedral.


When we returned from our walkabout, the room was ready and we found that the view from the sixth floor looked straight out at the hill we had just climbed.  The tall structure is the Nelson Monument, which has a peculiar ball on top of it that drops precisely at the stroke of 1:00 pm.  It was designed to let ships in the harbor know what time it was and they could set their chronometers. 




Our first dinner in Scotland was after a late afternoon stroll up High Street.  Caro ordered the ham and mushy peas appetizer.  Yumm!



The next day we climbed up to Edinburgh Castle and toured around inside and up on the battlements.  Here I am on the largest canon, Mons Meg. 


And here I am atop the battlements.  


We had a lovely luncheon at the castle's cafeteria and then strolled back to the Balmoral Hotel for a lie-down followed by dinner and then a wee dram of whisky. 


More to come as we explore the Royal Botanic Gardens in our next installment.


Friday, August 09, 2013

Dr. Strange Bear

For once the traveling was on someone else's shoulders:  Schlepp was at homebase in Albuquerque while the rest of the web geek's from DOE flew/drove in for this week's InterLab conference.  It was a busy time, coming right after Goen's visit from Seattle, but at least we had a 4-day weekend to prepare for the onslaught. 

Monday was the HTML5/CSS3 class followed by a trip to the Sandia Tram.  Tuesday was all day presentations followed by a banquet at the Sheraton.  Wednesday was more of the same with dinner and a tour of the Nuclear Museum. 

It was at that last event that I was able to break loose and enjoy myself, riding a few nuclear weapons and hopping onto the occasional missile. 

Here I am atop a facsimile of the Fat Man...

And atop some lethal looking missiles...

And right beside "The Gadget," the device exploded at Trinity Site.

Here I am in the "bell" or rocket engine noozle of a Titan 2.  Sheesh!  It's big!

And here's another hero shot of me atop some big-ass nuclear weapon.  Shades of Major Kong aka Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

Stand by for next month's installments from... Scotland.  Remember, you heard it here first.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

All three of the Schlepp gang had a fun outing for the 4th -- they got to ride with Caro in the Matthew Meadow Parade.  Not only that, but there were cookies afterwards at the picnic in the park.  Even Cousin Middle Schlepp got to join in the festivities. 




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Durango

A couple weeks ago was Karl's birthday and to celebrate we all took a long weekend in Durango, Colorado.  The weather was iffy, but it all worked out in the end.  Little did I know it would be a bear-ful weekend. 

Of course, the first thing we did was check out the railroad station.  I got my picture taken on the wild horses sculpture out front.


A short while later we came across a hotel full of bears, the General Palmer Hotel. 


From there on, it was one bear-filled store after another. Stuarts had a friendly fellow.  We chatted while Caro bought a leather vest and Karl got a new hat. 


We came across this huge fellow just up the street.  He reminded me of the Kober's bear in Vienna.






And in an antique shop across the street, yet another interesting, if large, fellow.





TTFN

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Belarus Bears in the News

This week in the Teddy Bear News... Swedish activists parachuted hundreds of bears into Belarus. 






MINSK (Reuters) - Authorities in Belarus arrested and fined two journalists for posing for photographs holding teddy bears after hundreds were dropped by air on the country in a pro-democracy stunt, the Belarussian Association of Journalists said on Thursday.

Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president, also suggested on Thursday that the Swedish embassy in Minsk had been involved in planning the July 4 escapade, in an outburst likely to widen a diplomatic rift with Sweden over the incident.

"Those who came and prepared the violation of the state border worked together with the (Swedish) embassy. We have proof of this," Lukashenko was quoted as saying by the Belarus state news agency Belta.

The journalists' arrest and Lukashenko's accusation underlined the depth of his anger and embarrassment over the stunt and his determination to punish those he views as being responsible for it.

The two journalists, Irina Kozlik, who works for Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, and Yulia Doroshkevich, a press photographer, were each fined 3 million Belarussian roubles (about $400) at separate court hearings in Minsk and released.

An official for the ex-Soviet republic's journalist association said that Kozlik, 27, and Doroshkevich, 31, were detained on Wednesday evening in the capital Minsk.

The two women were accused of "carrying out an unsanctioned protest," Andrei Bastunets, deputy head of the association, told Reuters.

The July 4 stunt, in which a light aircraft chartered by a Swedish PR firm Studio Total dropped 800 toy bears carrying pro-democracy messages over Belarussian territory, prompted Lukashenko to sack his air defense and border guards chiefs and expel Sweden's ambassador.

The teddy bear "blitz" was the latest pro-democracy stunt aimed at mocking Lukashenko's iron grip on a country he has ruled since 1994, three years after the Soviet Union's break-up.

Once described as Europe's last dictator by the U.S. administration of George W. Bush, Lukashenko has been ostracized by the European Union and United States over a harsh crackdown on opponents who challenged his re-election in December 2010.

Last summer, opposition groups staged waves of "silent" protests in Minsk in which people engaged in synchronized public clapping and coordinated their mobile phones to ring out in unison to show their disapproval of Lukashenko's style of rule.
DIPLOMATIC RIFT
With both Belarus and Sweden now pulling all their diplomats out of each other's country, the diplomatic rift has worsened Belarus's already poor relations with the West.

In comments issued by Belta news agency on Thursday, Lukashenko said Belarus still awaited an answer from Sweden and neighboring Lithuania about their role in the airdrop. The plane entered Belarussian air space from Lithuania.

"If these answers do not come according to international norms, we will find an adequate response ourselves ...," he said.

"Lithuania shouldn't sit like mice under the broom either. They have got to say why they allocated their territory for violating a state border," he added.

In a statement on Thursday, the U.S. State Department said the expulsion of the Swedish diplomats only served "to deepen Belarus' self-isolation ... We again call on Belarus to immediately release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, and to put an end to the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition."

It took more than three weeks for Belarus to formally confirm the teddy bear airdrop. It was all the more embarrassing for Lukashenko and his defense chiefs since the incident occurred a day after Independence Day, which also commemorates Minsk's World War Two defense against Nazi Germany.

Lukashenko sacked two generals, including the head of the air defenses, and told the incoming border guards chief to use weapons if necessary to shoot down any future foreign intruders into Belarussian air space.

Belarus's KGB state security agency has since charged two Belarussians, Anton Suryapin and Sergei Basharimov, with complicity in the "illegal intrusion" by the Swedish plane.

Suryapin, who is aged about 20, had earlier been identified as a blogger who was arrested after the first photographs of the toy bears were published on the Internet. In the past week, some Belarussian journalists have shown solidarity with Suryapin by posing for photos on the Internet holding miniature toy bears.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Rosalind Russell)