Sunday, December 31, 2006

Winter in NM

Record-setting snow fell over the weekend, but luckily we got Kent moved before things really got icy Friday night. By Saturday morning, there was over 15" on the ground.

The family across the street got out in the snow by noon and built a truly enormous snowman. Of course, Little Schlepp went out to help.

Although pretty to look at, the storm stranded travelers, caused us to cancel holiday dinners with friends, knocked out power over at Paul and Toni's place. Last I heard, McGoey had borrowed a pole lopper yesterday evening to cut frozen branches away from the utilities.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Cats

Christmas with the family is always special, but this year we had special guests: a pair of orphaned mountain lion cubs. Their mother had been killed by a poacher, but NM Game & Fish trackers found the den before the little guys starved. Here's a shot of them under the Christmas tree.

About five years ago my sister-in-law Kathleen nursed three other orphaned mountain lions until they were about 35 lbs each. That gang is now happily at the Albuquerque Zoo. Please support wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, in particular, support the NM Wildlife Center, Kathleen's organization.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays from Travel Schlepp

From one small bear to the rest of teddy beardom and all the rest, have a safe and happy holiday, a festive Festivus, a salubrious Saturnalia, a joyous Noel, a wonderful Hanukkah, a rejuvenating Solstice, and a merry Christmas. For all the year's work on international security, nonproliferation, and WMD threat reduction, my job is not endangered by an outbreak of world peace.

Look for the December Schleppcast later today, but first... I have to make a trifle and not get any fur in it.

-- Travel Schlepp

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Lyrics for Iraq

From Loreena McKennett's "Lullaby," based on Blake. She answers the question, "Who has gotten us fouled up in Iraq:?" with "The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it! Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it!"


O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue
To drown the throat of war!
When the senses are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness,
Who can stand?

When the souls of the oppressed
Fight in the troubled air that rages,
who can stand?

When the whirlwind of fury comes from the
Throne of god, when the frowns of his countenance
Drive the nations together,
who can stand?

When Sin claps his broad wings over the battle,
And sails rejoicing in the flood of Death;
When souls are torn to everlasting fire,
And fiends of Hell rejoice upon the slain.
O who can stand?

O who hath caused this?
O who can answer at the throne of God?
The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it!


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Talking Heads and the Iraq War

Slightly modified from the Talking Heads 1987 original on their "Stop Making Sense" album. Kinda scary how this song describes what's going on right now in Iraq.

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
a place where nobody knows.
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now.
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto,
I've lived all over this town.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around.
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now.

Transmit the message, to the receiver.
hope for an answer some day.
I got three passports, couple of visas,
don't even know my real name.
High on a hillside, trucks are loading.
Everything's ready to roll.
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime.
I might not ever get home.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around.
This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain't got time for that now.

Heard about Baghdad? Heard about Tikrit?
Heard about Diwa-ni-yah?
You oughta know not to stand by the window;
somebody might see you up there.
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
to last a couple of days.
But I ain't got no speakers,
ain't got no headphones,
ain't got no records to play.

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time?
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard,
I can't write nothing at all.
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around.
I'd love you hold you, I'd like to kiss you.
I ain't got no time for that now,.

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
we blended in with the crowd.
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines.
I know that ain't allowed.
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
or in a suit and a tie.
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
don't know what I look like!
You make me shiver, I feel so tender.
We make a pretty good team.
Don't get exhausted. I'll do some driving.
You ought to get you some sleep.
Get your instructions, follow directions,
then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,
whatever you think is best.

Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won't help me survive.
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace.
The burning keeps me alive.
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness.
Don't want to catch no disease.
Try to be careful. Don't take no chances.
you better watch what you say.

Friday, November 03, 2006

No good move in a bad position

My father taught me chess when I was so young, that now I can not remember not ever knowing how to play. One of the most important lessons was, "There is no good move in a bad position."

That explains a lot about life in general. It explains why the Democrats can't articulate a magical, silver bullet strategy to deal with Iraq and terrorism. After five years of Republican rule, we've made so many mistakes* that there is no simple, clean solution to get out of the hole they've dug.

There is no good move in a bad position.

* Should have bulldozed Abu Ghraib, made Saddam's palaces a national memorial instead of the Green Zone, never disbanded the Iraq army, never disenfranchised low-level Baathists, finished Afghanistan and Bin Laden first, double-checked the WMD intelligence.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mid-term elections

Its coming down to the wire and here in NM its a close one between Wilson and Madrid. If the number of campaign signs in yards is any indications, Madrid will win. Her signs outnumber Wilson's 3 or 4 to one.

I've already voted and, to avoid the chance of electronic fraud, I did so with a paper absentee ballot. See How to hack a voting machine. More importantly, I read the entire Princeton report "Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine" and believe its methods and conclusions are sound. Of course, my paper ballot gets read with an optical reader and then sent to some master database of votes, so anything could happen. But I will be very upset if the exit polls and the final vote counts diverge significantly as they did in Ohio in 2004.

One thought is to take a video camera, or failing that, your camera-equiped cell phone into the booth with you and record the process. If any unusual behavior turns up, please contact your precinct voting officials immediately with your images. I'd appreciate hearing from any who experience problems. Schlepp 'at'

All that said, in the end it comes down to one thing -- vote on Nov. 7.

Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korean Nuclear Tests

I suppose it was inevitable--North Korea's nuclear test today. At right is the USGS summary map of the area for the day showing a small seismic anomaly. Interestingly, when I went to the site immediately after the North's announcement, the USGS map showed nothing.

Back in 1968 nuclear nations agreed with the signing of the NPT to take "effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament." With current US foreign policy, it's not surprising that North Korea has pulled out of the NPT and has begun building nuclear weapons. Nor is it surprising that a number of other nations might be working to develop a nuclear weapons capability. If the nuclear powers cling to their nuclear weapons and threaten their use, then other nations will inevitably try to join the nuclear club.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Disarmament Sketches

Back in the fall of 2002, I had the pleasure of buying a copy of Disarmament Sketches at a book signing by the author, Amb. Thomas Graham. It was close to the end of the evening, but I had time to ask him one question, "What about Iraq?" This was while UN inspections were in high gear and before the shooting started. He said that it would turn the entire Muslim world from Morocco to the Phillipines into a huge Al Queda recruiting camp.

After the declassification of a portion of the recent NIE report on Iraq, it turns out that Amb. Graham was exactly right.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Electoral Statistics and Prognostications

These links to my favorite poll-watcher in the Netherlands.

And while we're at it re: statistics, here's a graph of the terrorism stats behind the National Intelligence Estimate from

Instantly clear is the effect of the War in Iraq.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ahoy, its September 19th already and that means... its International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Get your "5 A's" ready, put on your piratitude, swagger a bit, drink some grog, and get 15 of your friends to hang out with on a dead man's chest. Just to keep you straight about it, those important A's are:


Schlepp will be hosting UN visitors, and probably not get a chance to fully embrace TLAP until after 4:30 in deference to their cultural sensitivities and such. Arrr!

Don't miss and chase down the links to their half dozen or so short videos on YouTube.

Keep to the code!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bravo, Olbermann!

I was incredibly encouraged by Keith Olbermann's MSNBC piece tonight. Very much on target and in sync with my thoughts. Unfortunately, everyone who needed to hear his remarks were probably watching Disney's strange view of 9/11 on ABC. And recent research indicates that "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." Yes, Simon and Garfunkle beat the behavioralists by about 35 years.

Think I'll get brave and record my 9/11 + 5 years SchleppCast. Schlepp and I were in Bonn, Germany and it seemed like all of civilization was burning down behind us. How were we going to get home?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Its one year to the day that I found Louie, a white Curious George kind of monkey, on the shoulder of I-40 westbound in the pouring rain. Since then he's become the nucleus of a series of stories about leaving New Orleans and Mandi, the little girl who owned him in the Lower Ninth Ward. Those stories are now podcasts as well.

Meanwhile, the world doesn't seem to have much improved. Like Louie, many from New Orleans have not returned or can not return. Iraq continues its civil war, Korea continues to snub us, Iran merrily continues its nuclear program, Bin Laden is still at large, our debt to China increases, large-scale terrorist plots continue to come to light, Darfur (and all the rest of Africa) continues to be ignored, Bolton is being pushed forward for confirmation as UN Ambassador, my real wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, health insurance is more expensive but less effective, the WMD-in-Iraq debacle unfolds with Plame and the Downing Street memo, key republicans and lobbyists are criminally indicted, Cheney shoots a man in the face and there is a 24-hour cover-up... the list keeps going on and on.

With all that in mind, this November -- vote.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Its nearly the anniversary of Katrina and the finding of Louie. After picking him up on the shoulder of I-40 during a thunderstorm, his stories have formed a framework for much of this year's podcasts, starting just before Christmas. They even lead into episode 20, where Newport the Lion tells about learning how to roar and discovering his courage. I hope to get Caro to crank out her script for the one-year Katrina podcast and get that online by Tuesday.

So far I've managed to keep all my episodes online, tucked into odd corners of cyberspace wherever I can borrow a few megabytes. Check them out and get up-to-date on the SchleppCast before Tuesday's story hits the streets.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Dispatches, Version 3

For 4 1/2 years I've been posting travel stories to my Southwest Cyberport account as sort of a manual blog. Basically, its all handmade HTML, which really slows things down on the input side.

Since April 2005 I've been using Planarchy software to upload a simple static blog. There's the active blog page (version 2) and an archive page (version 1). But now that I'm podcasting, the big audio files are pushing everything else to the side.

Looks like Blogger will offer me free space, so I'll be happy to continue with Travel Schlepp's Dispatches, Version 3 from here.

Meanwhile, here is the link back to the Travel Schlepp website where you can find the original adventures, dispatches, and podcasts.