Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Schlepp Goes Cross-Country

Yesterday Schlepp and Karl got a break from elder care. Along with their friend Ric, they grabbed skis, snowshoes, and packs and went up to Sandia Crest for some winter fun.

Ric had never been on snowshoes before, so he was enlightened with the ease with which he could manuever in the crusty, icy, 4-day old snow. Just the week before, he was defeated in a hike up to the South Crest by two feet of snow.

As you can see, everyone enjoyed the trek up to the Kiwanis Hut. Alas, on the way down, one of Karl's 20-year old Karhu skis finally gave up the ghost, cracking just behind the 3-pin binding plate. Time for some no-wax skis.

BTW, Gert and Henry are doing well. Today the physical therapist took Gert down the hall a goodly distance and back, non-stop. The trip measured 95' one-way, more than far enough to get her to the dinning room down on the first floor. Tomorrow we'll try doing lunch downstairs as well as unpacking the last of the boxes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Update on Telephone Service

Just a quick jot to say that phone service hasn't come online as expected. A technician is going to work on the problem tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gert and Henry's cell phone is the only way to call the new apartment.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Got Gert and Henry into the new apartment and all is well. She's still moving kinda slow but can make it from the curbside all the way up to the 4th floor. Everyone is happy about the look-and-feel of the new place.

When we left they were having dinner with some neighbors from down the hall. Tomorrow Gert starts out with home P/T at the Woodmark--she doesn't have to go back to Health South for out-patient P/T.

I think I'm going to sleep for the next week.

The Big Day

Looks like we're going to survive the big move. Got Henry all packed up, Ty is coming down with some last minute items, and I'll be picking up Gert from Health South around 11:00. Should have them both over to the new apartment by new if all goes as scheduled. Of course all this is contingent on doctor's discharge orders and that moves at the speed of insurance paperwork.

More news later today....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yet Another Sunday Update

Gert's doing well and expected to get "sprung" from Health South Rehab tomorrow. Gotta run now 'cuz we're frantically unpacking all the boxes that came down with the movers on Friday.

Hurry, hurry. Scurry, scurry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Great Geezer Migration

My good friend Paul McGoey has a remarkable way with words and has deemed this week "the Great Geezer Migration." On Friday morning three movers with a 23-foot van head up to White Rock. Lou and Ty meet them at 10:00 and they load furniture (carefully numbered and labelled) plus something like 19 boxes that have been packed since mid-November.

The movers blast down to Albuquerque and they unload into our pre-planned arrangement of furniture. With Gert still in rehab, we have Sat. and Sun. to "stage" the apartment for Gert's arrival. Whew!

I'm still amazed that on Friday the phone company will turn off good ol' 672-9164 up in White Rock where its been an active number for 39 years. New phone = 881-5146.

Meanwhile, the icy roads prevented an AM visit to Gert but Caro and Henry saw her in the late afternoon. She's doing very well.

Henry has quite an appetite these days. Ty and I cooked up sausages, baked apples, gourmet grits (cream and smoked Gouda), and biscuits--very much the Low Country cooking of the Carolinas. Afterwards Henry had the last couple bits of "spotted dog" bread that we baked on Sunday. Finally he had a bit of egg nog and a chocolate chip cookie from Millie's diner.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yet Another Sunday Update

After a frantic day of Mom-care, driving up to White Rock, packing like crazy, and then driving back to ABQ, Sunday truly is a day of rest. We've got things as ready for the movers as we can.

Its a grey day with snow and rain showers earlier. The forecast promises much colder and snow tomorrow. At least the streets are passable right now. Keeping our fingers crossed for the movers next Friday.

Caro is up at Health South with Gert. After a so-so day Friday and yesterday, she is back on track with improved spirits. The doctor has her scheduled for discharge a week from tomorrow (12/22).

Right now Henry is playing the accordion in the next room and I've a rare chance to put the iPod with a microphone next to him. Earlier he finally got his chance to make pancakes, which traditionally are a Saturday breakfast.

Yesterday, during the hectic packing expedition, Kent and Ty did yeomen's service by taking care of Henry all day from 8 'til 8. They got Mom's collection of crosses up on the wall and Dad got to see the apartment for the first time after painting, shelving and lighting were installed.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Update

Gert is doing fine, comfortably settled in at Health South. She's met the physical therapist and the occupational therapist, nurses, and other staff. Serious rehab starts on Monday. Probably the only complaint would be less than stellar food.

Henry is staying in the guest bedroom and seems to do alright. This morning while I was putting together a crockpot pot roast, he and Caro had a long talk about family care giving, death and dying. He worries more about taxes and is already concerned about next April 15. We assure him that we'll get professional tax help for him.

Schlepp and his human, Karl, are glad to be back home after some really hectic packing in White Rock. Probably one more weekend trip should pull it together. Despite the broken hip, surgery, and rehab, people keep telling us that Gert will be ready to go to the new Woodmark assisted-living apartment on the 19th.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Getting Gert Going

Yesterday the Physical Therapist had Gert up into a chair for lunch. Then a little later, he got her into a walker and they went out into the hall, perhaps 30' or so. It was painful and tiring, but the leg can bear her weight. The hospital is getting Gert a cool 4-wheel walker, in purple, so she can get used to her own personal one instead of using the lenders that PT brings.

A social worker has set things up for discharge on Friday to Health South, a rehab facility in Albuquerque. Henry will come stay with us for awhile, using Frances' room with its new sofa bed. They expect that Gert will be out of rehab in about two weeks, just in time to move into Woodmark Assisted Living.

So despite the drama of the past few days, it looks like there will be little impact on the move out of White Rock. The main thing is that we have to get things packed up pretty well today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

122 Azure

Schlepp spent a subdued Thanksgiving weekend with the folks up in White Rock, packing the house on Azure. Forty years of living layered into closets, shelves, and nooks have so far been distilled into 14 boxes. Each carefully labeled and its contents written down in a notebook.

Schlepp helped where he could, but he's a little bear and the boxes are big. Some family treasures have come to light--more about that later. The big move will be the 19th, when Gert and Henry leave the house for assisted living in Albuquerque.

But Monday has had its own twist. After a couple doctors appointments in the morning, Gert was getting out of the car and she fell. She has a fractured femur. Surgery is set for 7:30 this morning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Colt

While I ended up with Grandpa's Mauser on my wall, my older brother got his WW 1 vintage Colt .45 automatic. The wooden diamond-shaped pattern cut into the grip had been worn completely away where his hand held it, although the incisions are at least a 1/16th of an inch deep elsewhere. He must have literally had it in his hand all the time for the entire deployment. That might have been 500 days because as a professional soldier he was sent overseas early to learn trench warfare from the French shortly after the US declared war (April 1917). Most doughboys didn't arrive until 1918.

Colt service automatics had a safety feature that prevented the gun from firing if the muzzle was pressed directly against something. I remember someone telling me that he had filed that safety off. Lou says it just wore down from constant use. At any rate, better to have it blow up in your hand and take out your adversary when you're in hand-to-hand combat.

He mentioned once that a trenching tool (that cute little folding shovel you see in Army surplus stores) made an excellent weapon in close quarters. I shudder to think about two men fighting in a trench, one with a bayonet and the other with the modern equivalent of a battle axe because he has emptied the Colt's magazine. The fact that my grandfather survived leaves one stunned to think about the other unfortunate soldier. And how often did it come to that? No wonder he came home, hung up the uniform, and put all the guns away.

He told the tale of running through a young stand of trees, only able to take cover behind 1" saplings. He took a .22 in the bicep that passed clean through. At the aid station they simply put a bandage on one side and then poured iodine directly in the wound and capped it with the top bandage. He said that hurt much more than the bullet.

Another time an artillery shell exploded beside him and he continued on for some minutes until he noticed wet blood on his Colt. His arm (again) had taken the shrapnel and he hadn't felt a thing.

My brother had had the Colt inspected by a gunsmith and he even fired it a few times at the shooting range. It had a tremendous recoil. Grandpa said that if you had a choice you aimed at the pelvis, so the momentum of the bullet would strike bone and knock a charging soldier down. No good to shoot someone and have them still run up and bayonet you. Imagine the kinds of lessons our soldiers are learning in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

Unfortunately Grandpa's Colt was stolen when burglars broke into my brother's trailer back in the 90s. The thief may just have thought that they had gotten an old gun to pawn, but instead they had taken an irreplaceable piece of our family history.

The few stories we know about that terrible war make sure that we Horaks understand that war is not a game and that sacrifice is real. Despite Grandpa leaving the military after the war, both my father and uncle served during the Second World War. It has only been our great good fortune that war has not overtaken my generation--my draft number during Viet Nam was 311--just lucky, I guess.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Relief and Astonishment

The entire Bears' Home Front Brigade has issued a collective sigh of relief. Whew! Obama made it! Chili Bear can (almost) relax about endangered polar bears. Travel Schlepp can (almost) feel the international tensions settling down a notch.

All the bears and critters are wondering aloud that America truly is amazing if it can go from 8 years of Bush to a free election where the black son of a Muslim Kenyan father and a Kansas farm girl rises to become our next president. The bears are proud to be American bears today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Schlepp's Civic Duty

Schlepp has voted... well, at least his human has. The first attempt, last Wednesday, ended when he walked into a darkened polling place downtown. A power outage had taken out the lights. Even though the voting machines have backup power and procedures exist to keep the balloting going even without power, there was no order or organization and he quickly left. Thursday evening in Ranchitos he had better luck and was finally able to vote.

Amazingly, there are teddy bear political sites out there. The best we've seen is Polar Bears Against Palin. Certainly Chili Bear agrees with that sentiment.

In this photo Chili hangs out with Maddie, Jennie, the Cat with No Name, and the Schlepps.

With a little Googling you'll learn that Bobo is Barack Obama's childhood teddy bear. Its a good thing to have a teddy bear close at times like these. I think Bobo has Secret Service protection.

But whatever your political persuasion, be sure to get out and vote. If you can, vote early. If you can't, vote next Tuesday. A week from now we should know who our next president is.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Schlepp in DC

Schlepp and I finally escaped the World Plone Conference briefly today to take the air, which was surprisingly warm and sunny. We walked down to the Mall and watched the people go by, admired the buildings and monuments from a distance, and quietly reflected.

You see, Aunt Frances, whom we had been hospicing in our spare bedroom back in NM, passed away late yesterday afternoon. She died quietly and peacefully surrounded by her daughter and niece.

Even if Travel Schlepp and I weren't there, Big Schlepp and the entire Home Front Brigade were. Fido and Cousin Middle Schlepp were there, too, and Paddy stayed curled up next to her to the end.

Although we'll miss her, somehow this all feels right... as though in her death was the completion of something important and in its own mysterious way, miraculous. Life's journey takes many unexpected twists and turns. Certainly Aunt Frances life had more than its share and in the end gave us memories and lessons of living that will stay will us all.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Lost Teddy Bear in Atlanta Airport

Just today TS received a lost-bear report from a lady and her son who were in the A concourse of the Atlanta airport Friday October 3. The missing bear is either a 14" or 18" Gund Schlepp and was not (as of this posting) turned in to lost-and-found. The Bears' Homefront Brigade is mobilizing volunteers in the area. Any stuffed critters or their humans with any information on this bear, please leave a comment or e-mail schlepp 'at'


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Valle Grande Tour

This past weekend Travel Schlepp went up to the Valles Caldera National Preserve and took the "Heart of the Valle Tour." It was a combo van-tour and hike, with the ten participants able to hike a little or a lot as they saw fit.

With an 8:00 start time, getting to the Valle from Albuquerque was a bit of a challenge but very worthwhile. Not only was sunrise in Jemez Canyon lovely, but the Valle Grande had a bowl full of fog. It had rained the night before and that's what triggers the fog.

The Valle was a chilly 38 at first but quickly warmed into the 80s. Beautiful vistas of the Redondo Border were everywhere. The final part of the tour took us into the Valle San Antonio in the far NW of the preserver and then through the center, past the History Grove, the old ranch headquarters, and back to the visitor center.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hurricane Ike Aftermath

Schlepp got Sunday off from hospicing Aunt Frances thanks to Cousin Kathie holding the fort. Got to go up to the Valles Caldera and tour back into the far NW reaches of the Redondo Border. Beautiful country, early fall, and wonderfully re-energizing.

Today we're back at it, but for perspective, don't forget that Hurricane Ike was a huge disaster despite the media's switch of attention to the financial situation.

For example, this just in from my old college roommate, J.C. He lives in PA but obviously took time off from work to help out in TX.

hi all,
I just got back form Houston/Baytown. Baytown is the site for the 2nd biggest emergency kitchen operation in history ( the first was the support operation at the twin towers site). I have to admit that the baptist men's clubs of North Carolina really do know how to do it right as far as supporting the emergency workers, they run the kitchens that supply the food we deliver to the clients, and they have both a couple of portable shower trailers and a laundry trailer that was parked outside of the staff shelter that I got a cot in last night.

this is an altogether different operation than what we did at Katrina, the need is more pressing. It is probably because I am here at week 2 instead of week 5 like Katrina. We have elderly people walking up to the meal lines at the shelter who have walked for a 2 miles or more. This isn't "helping the needy and meeting the greedy" this is bringing 500 lunches to the community of Anahuac and running out of food, then 4 hours later coming back with 750 diners and leaving just 30 extra meals in the shelter for people who walk up after we have to leave. You do NOT want to be the guy in the red cross vest who has to look a 3 year old in the face and say "Sorry, we're out."

we aren't resupplying warehouses like we sometimes did in Katrina. We are running supplies to where the generosity of America meets the desperate of America. The missions are long, very long! We operate the main warehouse and the head quarters up in Fort Worth because ....well for exactly the reason we are in now. There is Kyle churning up the Atlantic. If we were deployed closer we could be knocked out by anything that comes on shore.

well I've driven almost 900 miles in a box truck in the last 48 hours so I need some pillow time.

See ya all,


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hurricane Hanna

Big Schlepp just earned his Hurricane Merit Badge--Hanna came ashore on the NC/SC border this morning. He and the rest of Aunt Frances' critters and human friends stayed put, although when Hanna was thought to become a Cat. 2 storm, they were planning to evacuate inland to Whiteville, NC.

Here TS watches the Weather Channel for updates. The Sun News online (Kurt Knapek) reports,

Two awnings were damaged and four trees were toppled in Myrtle Beach during the night as Tropical Storm Hanna made its way through the area, according to city spokesman Mark Kruea.

The damaged awnings are located at Ocean Boulevard and Third Avenue South, and the other on Kings Highway and 65th Avenue North, Kruea said.

Myrtle Beach received more than 3 inches of rain, he said.

Most of the power outages in the city were repaired within 30 minutes, Kruea said.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hurricane Hanna

Tropical Storm Hanna is forecast to become at least a Category One hurricane in the next day or so and then head north. South Carolina is right in its crosshairs. Aunt Frances is getting ready to evacuate ahead of the storm 'cuz their too close to the ocean. Big Schlepp is taking special care that everyone is safe. The latest e-mail from Myrtle Beach said,
Don't worry about ... Middle Cousin Schlepp and Fido (Frances' beautiful stuffed doggie) - they're going in the car if they have to sit on the steering wheel. I've put all of Frances' other stuffed critters together on a shelf in the closet and told them to "hunker down cause a big wind might be coming."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Louie is having bad flashbacks tonight. Only three years ago I rescued him from the left lane of I-40 westbound in Albuquerque during a pounding rain storm.

He and his human family had evacuated New Orleans ahead of Katrina only for him to be lost on the highway when a luggage strap failed. Now he's good buddies with all the other bears and critters in the Bears' Home Front Brigade.

He also has played a key role in the rescue of Lightfeather in Travel Schlepp's novella. Should be another podcast uploaded this evening.

Meanwhile, Schlepp, Louie, and other bears have been watching the Weather Channel and hoping that Hurricane Gustav doesn't do too much damage. In the photo above TS and Louie look at the Saturday AM model tracks from the Weather Underground. Louie has seen what a big hurricane can do and he's urging everyone to evacuate as ordered and make for high ground.

Postscript: Turtle weigh in. Terrance came in at 278 gm today, his heaviest weight ever. Its a good thing, too, with only six weeks or so until hibernation.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Valle Grande Walkabout

This weekend Schlepp and friends drove up into the lovely Jemez Mountains north of Albuquerque and hiked the Valle Grande. The Valle Grande is the largest of the huge high mountain calderas in the very center of the Jemez. They mark the site of what was once a lake in the center of a collapsed volcanic uplift, much like modern Crater Lake in Oregon. The lake drained 11,000 years ago into the East Fork of the Jemez River, leaving wide grassy bowls surrounded by mountains up to 11,500'.

In the panorama above you can see the expanse of the Valle Grande from the roadside viewpoint at the east end. Taking the gravel road out to the Valles Caldera National Preserve visitors center gives one a much better vantage.

Most hikes require reservations and a scheduled van ride to and from the trailhead, but three shorter hikes are available without prior arrangements. The scenary is superb and our short flower walk around Cerro la Jara was a joy, even if short. Its rare to come across a hike at a park site where one is instructed to strike out across the grassland without a trail.

Valles Caldera is a jewel. As a unique "national preserve," they are attempting to be economically self-sufficient by 2015. Currently they are at 20%. Every lesson they learn can be eventually applied to our other National Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites. They deserve your support.

Visit their website (even if a bit awkward to use) and then visit the Valles Caldera. If you sign up for one of their scheduled events, note that Albuquerque to the Staging Area for meeting your van will take 2 hours. This gives you a little leeway for unexpected delays, getting you to the parking area 15 or so minutes ahead of time for administrivia and loading gear.

Schlepp plans on going back soon. He's signed up for the Heart of the Valles tour on Sept. 21. This will get him into the Redondo Border, an area that is not visible from any vantage outside the preserve and said to be extremely scenic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Schlepp Goes Traveling

In a surprising turn of events, Travel Schlepp isn't the one traveling this week--Big Schlepp is. Caro is flying home to Myrtle Beach 'cuz Aunt Frances is sick. With Miss Frances in the hospital and not doing so well, Big Schlepp has his work cut out for him.

Here TS gives Big Schlepp some pointers on the use of airline headsets so he can watch the movie ("Kung Fu Panda"--pretty much a bear's kinda movie, don't cha think?)

Because Aunt Frances is ill, the Bear's Home Front Brigade decided to recruit a special bear for remote assignment. Just like we sent Cousin Brown Bear to stay with Bill in the hospital, we've found a special Gund bear for Frances.

He/she is still in the box with its big message of "Follow your Dreams" and has graciously agreed to let Miss Frances name him/her.

Here you can see our Special Agent Bear getting briefed on Bear's Home Front Brigade Security and Safety by Big Schlepp, Newport, the Beautiful Roberta, and the Cat with no Name.

We'll have more updates from Myrtle Beach as soon as Big Schlepp gets there late Thursday and probably a new podcast this weekend.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bears on Mars to be Baked in Ovens

Its true! The Phoenix Mars lander has identified three bears on Mars. The team at JPL plans to scoop them up and bake them in ovens.

If this sounds like some mixed up and terrible extra-terrestrial Brothers Grimm fairy tale, you're right. Papa Bear, Momma Bear, and Baby Bear are just the names for the first three sample sites for the Mars probe to dig. The soil will then be placed in a tiny on-board oven and slowly baked to analyze vapors that come off at different temperatures.

One of the most fun things to do with this lander is to follow its activities via Twitter ( That way you can get answers to your questions or just follow all the excitement, step by step.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Terrance Update

We spotted Terrance this weekend after three weeks and he's put on 15 gm. With his discriminating tastes, of course he turned up in the Hidden Garden, the very moist and lush courtyard garden that Caro has created on the west side of the house. Its shaded by the high fence on the south and a 20-year old stubby spruce. My four old cats, Oreo, Yoda, Tigger, and Paco are buried there. After all, it was there private yard when we first moved into the house.

Terrance immediately scarfed down some strawberries we set out for him and he has spent most of the weekend comfortably nestled in among the cedar bark mulch behind the lupines. This evening as the shadows grew long, he ambled off towards the other side of the yard. Eventually he reached the big Rosemary by the Bodhisattva Fountain and seems to have settled in there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Prius Training

Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about a phenomenon that Schlepp has long been aware of: how Karl's Prius trains you to drive more efficiently. We knew about that long ago when Karl was graphing the mileage of his new Prius with every tank of gas. Mileage kept increasing (to a point) as Karl responded to the two engine-battery performance screens that could be displayed on the console.

Caro went so far as to describe the Prius as a video game disguised as a car. The object of the game was get the highest mileage possible. Fill up at the corner gas station and nearly coast home so you can park it overnight in the garage with 83 mpg on the computer. Drive up to Los Alamos and back (90 miles and 2,000' vertical feet) while not falling under 50 mpg.

Today we came back from a quick weekend trip up to White Rock to visit the parents and help out around the house. We came back via State Road 4, the Valle Grande, the Ponderosa pine nursery at milepost 34, and High Country Gardens in Bernallilo. Even going over a 9,000' pass up by St. Peter's Dome Road, we scored 53.4 mpg.

Hooray, we win!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back from Turin

Well, as quickly as we were gone; we're back. About 44 hours dealing with travel compared with 20 hours of KMS meetings at UNICRI plus another 12 hours of formal socializing. We got out for a couple hours late on Friday afternoon in a light drizzle for a bit of shopping: perfume, chocolates, and a glass paperweight.

Dinner was at a nearby restaurant called Kipling for reasons that are still unclear to me, but the food and wine were excellent. The starter was beautiful tray of three seafood appetizers: salmon with mango chutney, a whitefish (Baccalà) with capers, and black pepper-encrusted tuna with a balsamic reduction sauce. For the first plate, I had gnocchi in a very fresh and light tomato-basil sauce. The second plate consisted of seabass filets wrapped around asparagus with a butter sauce and the slightest drizzle of balsamic. Combined with a fine Barolo, it made an excellent repast.

But Saturday morning, after a restless night with poor sleep, we were up at 4:00. We were off to the airport around 5:30 after a bit of a struggle getting a taxi. The flight to Paris left at 7:00 and only took an hour or so. After a three-hour layover in CDG, we were off again, this time to Atlanta.

At first blush it could have been horrible--I was seated next to a small infant--but she was amazingly well behaved and quiet the entire trip, even on descent when ear-troubles bother most children. The furry one quickly made friends and the long flight across the Atlantic was a pleasant one.

After a dash through passport control, customs, and ATL, we caught our flight home with about ten minutes to spare. Even though only 3-1/2 hours long, we were in a window seat and that always makes for a claustrophobic flight despite the view. We much prefer aisle seats.

Next thing we knew, we were home in Albuquerque, about 24 hours after we had awakened and it was only 6:30 PM Saturday. Like Dickens' ghosts of Christmas, we had done it all in one day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another day of the UNICRI Knowledge Management System meetings. We were finished and back at the hotel by 3:00, in time for a nice lie-down. At 5:00 the bus picked us up and we headed out for a tour of the city before winding our way up one of the highest hills in town with wonderful vistas even with cloudy, cool weather. At the top was the Basilica di Superga.

Turn around and there's a magnificent view of the city with the Po River running through it. Alas, the day has been cloudy with a bit of rain. Here's Schlepp and Laura, our workshop coordinator, who did such a great job of feeding us, arranging for buses and airport shuttles, and generally keeping everything moving smartly.

Afterwards we made our way to the nearby Trattoria Bel Deuit where we enjoyed the local wines and again many, many courses. After finishing the meal, there was of course, espresso (no cappucino after 10:00 AM!).

The drive down was in the fog, which made the blind curves all the more fun. Here we are loading onto the bus, which gives you an idea of the visibility. Lower down the mountain things improved considerably as you can see here on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Arrival in Turin

Twenty four hours after leaving Albuquerque, Schlepp is in Italy. It was a long but uneventful trip. Got to the strangely named "Jolly Hotel" around 4:00 PM European time. After a brief lie down, it was still sunny outside, so we took a walk, had our first gelato, and basically tried to keep from falling asleep too early.

Here's a chocolate gelato, before...

and after...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Travel Schlepp on the Road Again

Travel Schlepp and his human, Karl, are off on another jaunt this week. Monday they leave for Turin, Italy via Delta Airlines, Cincinnati, and Paris. It promises to be one of those weeks with little free time and more hours spent in airplanes than in meetings.
Turin looks to be a beautiful city full of cathedrals, ancient architecture, and historic facades. More importantly, it is the birthplace of solid chocolate. Schlepp's entire Tai Chi class is eagerly awaiting Karl's return with a suitcase full of Italian chocolate.

This trip is to attend a meeting with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute (UNICRI). Although a small agency, they work hard to stop illegal activities like drug smuggling, slavery, and the illicit transport of chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear weapon and equipment. The conference is a kickoff meeting regarding their knowledge management system, which will likely be built upon a Plone framework. For now though, its a time to listen and to understand their needs--what they need to do to accomplish their mission.

Its a little scary for Schlepp--the last time Karl and he did a knowledge management workshop, it was in Bonn, Germany... Sept. 10-12, 2001. Knowledge management will always be linked with 9-11 and the awful events of that day.

As a side note, Terrance is doing fine, wandering about mostly in the Vinca. Yesterday he happily snacked on some shrimp we left out for him. He has such refined tastes.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Schlepp Conquers the Faulty Trail / Terrance is Back

Today Schlepp, Kent, Ric, and Karl went up to Tijeras and followed the Lower Faulty Trail until it met the Upper Faulty Trail and then returned by the South Crest Trail. 4.3 miles and about 1000' of elevation. Kent lent the furry one his camera. Perhaps tomorrow Kent will e-mail the resulting photo this way.

Meanwhile, Terrance has responded to the near-80 degree weather and started rumbling about. He passed on a plate of strawberries and a dish of water, but not to worry -- he weighs 12-½ oz. That turns out to be exactly what he weighed last Oct. 6th when he was last weighed right before he hibernated. After I took him off the scales, he scampered into the Vinca and hung out at the edge of the porch for awhile. But now he's scooted off deeper into the tangle of vegetation and is nowhere to be seen. TTFN, Terrance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Terrance Spring Update

Its April 19 and Schlepp has been worrying about Terrance. Last year he was up and about by mid-April, but this year he's nowhere to be seen. Well, as bears are wont to do, he rustled around in the leaves under the Vinca where he'd seen Terrance burrowing in last October. Sure enough, just under the surface was Terrance, all squinty-eyed and sleepy but OK. He had turned himself around from last fall when he was about 6" deep and was only under the very loose leaves lying on top of the ground. Suspect he'll be up and around one of these days when he decides its safe and warm enough to come out.

The last two years he dug in within 15' of the swimming pool. Schlepp thinks that when Karl turned on the pool heater in early April those years, it warmed up the ground and got Terrance jump started. For now, he's in a safe place and we're glad to know he made it through the winter.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Teddy Bear Marches for Tibetan Autonomy

Today a brave Tibetan teddy bear and his human set out for their homeland as part of a symbolic march home by 100 Tibetans as part of pro-independence protests ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
"The youngest marcher was 19-year-old high-school student Tenzen Pema, who carried home-made cookies, a bottle of water and a teddybear."
Schlepp and all the Bears Home Front Brigade support this teddy bear's stand for freedom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Travel Schlepp on the go again

Its traveling time again for Travel Schlepp. This time its to Seattle, a favorite town, home ofBarb, PC, and Gus. We'll be just in time for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show plus we'll have time to catch up with John Olsen, who retired from Sandia last year and relocated to Whidbey Island. Expect photos and podcasts from the Great Pacific Northwet in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, the latest installment of Schlepp's novella has been posted. Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Travel Schlepp's Technical Side

You don't travel all over the world building databases, designing web portals, and such without picking up a few tricks. Head over to my technical blog at Plone Metrics. Also, be on the lookout for my third installment on the novella this weekend.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Arrivals--New Podcasts

Over the holidays we picked up a polar bear named Chili Bear aka Chilly Bear and a striped cat. The cat apparently has amnesia and that, along with Chili Bear, will roll into the novella's story line in Chapter Five. Below is a Christmas photo of Lady Jenny, Miss Maddy, Chili, Big Schlepp, Travel Schlepp, and the cat with no name.

For my birthday I received a takaan, a wooden teddy bear that was designed to be a papier-mâché mold. He's about 15" high and has a rather rigid pose, but looks to be a formidable part of the Home Front Brigade. He too will be worked into the story.

Speaking of which, another section of Chapter One has been recorded and we hope to have another podcast online this weekend.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Podcast

As promised, I've uploaded chapter 1, part 1 of Schlepp's new novella. Can a small bear originally from Seal Rock, Oregon rescue his friend Lightfeather? How 'bout save the world? If that's not enough, he's got to save the entire galaxy! Good thing he's got lots of help--Terrance the Tortoise and Louie, a silver leaf monkey from New Orleans, not to mention the entire Bears Home Front Brigade.

More to come on approximately a weekly basis.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fish & Wildlife Drag Feet While Interior Sells Out Polar Bears

From today's New York Times comes this scary little bit. Chili Bear, the new resident polar bear in the Home Front Brigade wants to bring it to everyone's attention.
The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service has announced that early next month it will sell oil and gas leases on nearly 30 million acres of prime polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea. Meanwhile, the department’s Fish and Wildlife Service has postponed a long-awaited decision on whether to place this iconic and troubled animal on the list of threatened species.
This means that Bush and Cheney will give their buddies in the oil industry first whack at sensitive polar bear habitat while their Fish and Wildlife friends drag their feet on protecting polar bears. Yet within a few decades two thirds of all polar bears will be gone, including _all_ of Alaska's.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Passing of a Great Beekeeper

We bears have an especially tender spot in our hearts for beekeepers, those selfless men and women who provide us with honey. Today the world is sadly without one of the greatest beekeepers ever, Sir Edmund Hillary. Its not every day that a beekeeper gets knighted, you know. Here is a photo of Sir Edmund along with Tenzing Norgay, the Shepa. Together they were the first climbers to ascend Mount Everest.

Not only a beekeeper and a climber, Sir Edmund was deeply committed to helping the Sherpa people. He built hospitals, schools, and airstrips throughout Nepal and dedicated himself to improving their lives. The Bears Home Front Brigade wishes to salute the passing of Sir Edmund and extends their condolences to all those who mourn his death.

He will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Travel Schlepp Book Now Online

For New Year's Day, Schlepp is posting the first four chapters of his new novella. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for the podcasts of the same.