Categories
whatever

A snowy welcome to 2023

Time just seems to be just flying by. Soon I will have eclipsed 62 years on this planet. Of late I have focused on the end of my second act and the start of my third act. Wondering what come’s next? Wondering when I start that next act of my life. I believe that I have much left to explore, to accomplish, to act upon and comment on.

I find myself up early on a cold Sunday morning in January, trying to decide what to do today as I finish off that second cup of coffee. A month has flown by already, and this represents my first post for the new year. The getting up early is normal, regardless of the day of the week. The list of things that I should do is rather long. The list of things that I must do, not so much. Outside it is just 14 degrees, as the sun begins to shine over the mountains. The ground is covered with upwards of four inches on the ground as it has snowed several times this week.

The thought of snow has been on my mind of late. For me, it identifies the season. It cleanses the air, the ground, the surroundings in some unique way. Others might suggest that it tells us about climate change (or not), global warming (or not), or it’s the end of the world as we know it (or not). I’m not planning on writing about that topic today. Save it for some future post. As I get older, the presence of snow keeps me from going out and doing things. It’s just too cold and as I get older, I mind the cold more and more. Clearly, I have a risk aversion to the cold weather. So does Jewel, who goes outside more than I. When there is snow, she does not travel as far in order to do her business. I have a shovel on the deck to clean up after her.

Snow on the ground is an indicator of how risk averse society has become. Many, many years ago, like when I was growing up, delays and cancellations for school or work, were very infrequent. One had to experience several feet before such actions were taken. Now an inch falls and there is a two-hour (or more) delay. Work is suspended for the day, but if you can work from home, please do so. It is hard to manufacture things from your kitchen table if you work requires specialized equipment. Oh, that’s right, as this is America, and we don’t manufacture things anymore.

I think delays are a response to how litigious our society has become. Work was suspended for the day. There was very little snow outside. I went out and drove around the neighborhood. Roads were snow packed and icy. Others were also out and about. A local restaurant was open and staffed for breakfast. I stopped and got something to eat. Small businesses here suffer the most when things like this happen. And with many small businesses going under after COVID, or unable to find enough people, or pay a decent wage because of runaway inflation, I was glad to stop in.

What about those people who are out there to plow the roads? What about those who have to travel long distances, to show up to work, or to school, in order to plow the parking lots, drive the buses, clear the walkways?

I see this aversion to risk everywhere, particularly at work. The fear of making a mistake, the fear of something not going correctly. It’s the fear of well, fear. It adds time and money to accomplishing even the simplest of tasks. We have procedures for everything. And if it is a task previously performed, albeit not very often, we cannot just resurrect the original procedure, we must start with a clean sheet of paper. We no longer value the skill of craft. We no longer value experience. Here’s to the two months of planning for the two-hour job!

All of this pre-planning, followed by planning, followed by replanning, on and on. Less gets accomplished and the cost of doing anything only increases. Obviously having more people review and comment makes the final product better. No, it does not. It only adds to the time to build the product. Yes, the consequences of poor planning can be extensive. But my god man, it isn’t rocket science.

So, as I close, welcome to TheMcKeeSpot for 2023. Hopefully I will write more frequently and hopefully more and more of you will check it out. Stay warm. Stay safe. And hug your kids.

Categories
whatever

Happy Holiday’s

Sitting here this Friday morning having a cup of tea, not coffee, I cannot believe that the year will soon be over. In my opinion, this year, 2022, has been very much a downer. Nonetheless, the year has flown by quickly. In my mind, the past 360-plus days is largely a blur. Some good times, some not-so-good times. The not-so-good times outnumber the good. Looking back upon my limited postings that I have put up over the course of the year, I come to the realization that I am glad that it will soon be over.

I would characterize this year as one in which a few good things happened, woven into the thread of bad times. The loss of friends, the loss of coworkers, the belief that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, uncertainty as to the path that I am to follow. Much of it not part of my plan, nor embellished in my posts. At least I am still standing.

Christmas has come and gone. The tree was put up, the stockings were hung over the fireplace. Presents exchanged. Presents unwrapped. Outside the weather was dreary. Cold days and nights, some rain, very windy, and a little snow. I was able to spend some time with the kids. Several hours between exchanging gifts, cooking a meal and eating it. Prime rib, beets and mashed potatoes. Alas, another holiday meal this year where I did not drink wine.

Another year in the bank in terms of work. I have eclipsed my 32nd year at Los Alamos. I have been calling this period as the second act in my life, unsure of what comes next or which direction to take. For a while, I have been thinking that it has been time to lower the curtain on this act, to move on, retire and decide “what’s next?”.

I had dinner last night with a coworker who reminded me that I have been saying that I will retire as long as she has known me. It has been and endless set of three bad days and then I am out. While this is true, I guess that I don’t move forward because I am torn between the idea that there is more to accomplish versus, I don’t know what is next. What is in this second act that remains unwritten?

Professionally, I have come to the conclusion that 2022 has been the least productive of my career. Goals not achieved. Work not completed. Old problems continue to linger. New problems all the time that lack solutions yet need to be addressed.

Personally, I have not seen much growth in myself. Change is hard. I can hope that 2023 will be better. I can try harder, but I am not optimistic. So Happy Holidays to one and all. A New Year will soon be among us.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

Tis a Saturday ramble on just about everything.

Good morning, everyone. I have been awake now for a couple of hours. Managed to get out and get my usual breakfast, a Chili Work burrito. I typically alternate between the Classic or the Jolly. A Classic is bacon, green with cheese whereas the Jolly is sausage, green with cheese. Eggs, potato and tortilla are a given. Yum. Of course, everyone should understand that green means green chili. You can get you burrito either as green, which is my favorite, red chili, no chili or even Christmas. Christmas is green and red. New Mexico is known for its chili.

Christmas shopping is almost complete. So, this weekend I will clean around the house and probably put up the Christmas tree. Like most Americans, given the poor economy with inflation out of control, I have limited what I am spending for gifts this year. Lacking snow on the ground, but cold weather, it isn’t very conducive to being in the Christmas spirit. Daughter is easy to shop for in terms of gifts. For her, it is things for the horse, or for her on the horse. Conversely, for son, he is harder to shop for. Video games is a given although I try to get him interested in other things.

I have been recovering from a stomach bug over the past few days. Not the flu, and not COVID. Could be my diet of late, or it could be work-related stress. I am not really sure. Trying to improve my diet. Have good days, and then not so good days. Applies to diet, and also for managing the work stress. Noting that my 32nd anniversary of work will soon be upon me, I have to wonder if I need to be done.

Getting e-mails from government health officials about the need to get a COVID booster. Yet, I had the original plus booster, and got COVID anyway. It is difficult to find some unopinionated science on the virus and so what to do next is difficult to decide. Having had COVID suggests that natural immunity would be ideal, yet I know people who have had COVID multiple times and so one has to question how far natural immunity will take you.

As I compose this post, the news is in the background. Topics being discussed cover many topics. From the broken border and increasing number of illegals crossing it daily, the prisoner swap with Russia, upcoming bowl games, the “Twitter files” and the suppression of free speech, politics, the economy, and America in decline.

And so, I will comment on all of those topics as I finish todays post. The border is broken. We need a wall. All of the illegals who have arrived need to be arrested and returned.

Drugs are coming over the border and it is our citizens who are dying. The precursors for those drugs originate in China. It is not in their interest to stop the exports of these materials. This is an undeclared war on our people and our way of life.

We are a nation of laws and if our government cannot enforce the basic laws, then it is time to get a new government. Impeachment is a just and prudent response to what has happened over the past two years.

The thought of a rematch between Michigan and Ohio State in the championship game is something to ponder, but I am not counting on it.

The “Twitter files” clearly show what we understood for a while. Twitter suppressed free speech based on the ideological bend of those who worked there. And of course, the fact that the Biden administration was involved should not surprise anyone. The Biden crime family and his administration is a cancer on our way of life. His administration is a disgrace; they are against the citizens of this nation and need to be removed from office.

Lastly, our economy is heading towards a recession as prices continue to go up. I expect it to be long and painful because the previous methods to manage economic decline simply will not work. Our government needs to get our house in order and stop giving away trillions of dollars based on policies that are not in the best interest of the people, the nation or the world. Nothing will put the country into greater decline faster than the economic decline, the educational decline, the decline in our standard of living, and the lack of lawlessness that we are seeing on a daily basis. Biden, like Obama before him, have been in office for a decade. Yet our budget deficit sits at $31 trillion dollars. In other words, these two men, in ten years, have managed contribute to half the national debt. And they have made our country worse, not better.

Expect me to cover these and other topics in future postings as 2022 comes to and end and we enter 2023. It is shameful that we are leaving this country in worse shape, on a path for war, famine, lower life expectancies and economic morass. Based on the results of the last election, we need to educate the electorate before it is too late, if it is possible. Or maybe the electorate wants to live in this type of cesspool. I don’t!

Categories
ramblings of a madman

That morning cup of coffee and the thoughts that go with it…

Just coming off a few days of not being at work with the Thanksgiving holiday and such. This year I didn’t overdo the whole family Thanksgiving meal. I cooked a turkey, tried a new stuffing recipe, used lots of heavy whipping cream in the mashed potatoes and had a store bought pumpkin pie…for 6 hours of “practicing chemistry” in exchange for an hour of food and laugh with my kids.

Well the time off is almost over, although I have contemplated the fact that I could make it permanent. In a couple of weeks I will eclipse the milestone associated with the fact that I will have been working for over 32 years at the same place.

I don’t know as of yet how to fill the days in a post retirement world. My friends who have retired, still work part time. Maybe I should just start cutting my work time altogether. But then why retire in the first place. My plan is not complete and so I stick with what I know.

But I digress. Next week it will be December, which in rapid succession will be a few long days at work to wrap up the year, and then it will be Christmas, some more time off, and then a new year.

Not finished with the Christmas shopping as of today, but I am sticking to the lists. Yes, like many, I am cutting back on the whole present thing. With the market declines, I have lost 10% of the value of my retirement account, but almost 50% declines in the college funds for my kids. And what money is spent, ends up costing you more to buy less. Well that is inflation. My daughter, who now drives and has to pay for gas, is beginning to understand the value of a dollar. That fact is bourne out be her world. It costs more to fill the tank, to get a meal at Sonic. Just wait till she has to get a job and become self sufficient. The world is becoming too expensive, especially the necessities in life. What will she do when she has to pay for the horses and their food, let alone her own. My son, on the other hand, doesn’t see it since is Roblux cost the same. And he always wants more.

Excuse me while I get that second cup of coffee…

So every week, I place a clean cup under the coffee maker. Each and every day, after I wake up and get ready for the day, making the morning cup is high on the list of things to start the day. It is a ritual each and every morning. I usually start the morning with two cups. The brand will vary, but with no cream and a scoop of sugar. Each and every day. Talk about inflation. The varying bags of store bought coffee often comes in a 12 oz pack. The costs have a single bag has gone up almost thirty percent since Biden was elected.

Addicted…absolutely. A vice…more like a crutch. An absolute. Never in withdrawal because I can get my fix, multiple times a day. I am in a very different mindset if I deviate from this ritual. On work days, I stop at the coffee kiosk as I walk from my parked car to the office. Each and every day. It is a must. My only vice? I need that magic elixir or else the whole day is just wrong. And my addiction has gotten worse. Sometimes, after a meal, especially on travel, I may endulge in desert with my meal. Desert sometimes…coffee always.

And on the days that I don’t work, I will splurge and visit the Starbucks. Meet friends over coffee. Stop at the Speedway and get a 24 oz brew when I am heading to the stables. Or get a cup at the bakery. And while our local grocery store has a beer and wine bar, I can also visit the in-store Starbucks and get a cup as I stroll tthrough the store shopping for what food I want for the week. One cannot stroll through the store with a mug of beer or glass of wine.

It was the start of the day, the coffee cabel. It is always the start of the day, even though my cowroker has departed and our morning coffee cabel is no more. And now it is the end of the day. Doctors have often suggested that it is why my sleep patterns are not normal. Four hours of sleep, and a tall cup of coffee in between. My body is impacted by that most basic drug. Caffine! How wrong can they be.

Having a coffee adiction makes shoping for gifts for me easier. You can always use one more coffee mug. A few mugs are displayed in the photo above. As for me, I am always interested in trying new roasts that the store, or other places can provide me.

I am really enjoying the Black Rifle Blackbeard’s Delight. The dark roast advertises that I will “find a smoky aroma and a robust flavor with hints of baker’s chocolate”. For me, I am exploring the unknown as I start the day.

The Kicking Horse Kick Ass dark roast is just that. It kicks ass. When I need that extra jolt to kick ass at the start of the day, well there it is. The Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend is my fall back blend of late for starting the day. It describes it self as an “incomparable world blend, rich, complex, and full-bodied”. I find it to be one of the few things of value to come out of Berkeley, California. And if it is not a bag of Starbucks, it will be a bag from Dunkin, or Seattle’s Best.

Now for the purists, they are all store bought ground coffee’s. I have a grinder, but I am lazy, especially in the early morning. I don’t have a fancy coffee brewer. I actually like the old-style perculator’s the best. I currently brew my morning in a Keurig. No french press, no special machine. I don’t use special water. My tap water tasts just great and makes a fine cup of coffee in my opinion. However, it must be hot. Not warm. HOT.

So I start the day with a good coffee. I end the day with a good bourbon. Simple, yes. Predictable, maybe. A bit excentric, always. Until next time.

Categories
life

The Return

Hello Everyone. It has been over six months since my last post. It wasn’t that I lost interest. It was due to the death of my computer. My desktop, and all of those files were rendered unretrievable because of a failure of the disc drive. All my pictures. All my tax returns. All my things in the electronic age were lost. My son and daughter lost years of games. Yes, I know better and should have had backup. Live and learn…or maybe it is fate telling me that it is necessary to start over. Let’s go with that!

Earlier this week I recovered from the problem. Partially. I bought myself an early Christmas present in that I got a new computer. I was excited when it arrived. Now I struggle because I need to figure out how to set it up with what I want. I hope that I can take the old hard drive somewhere, somehow, and recover the files, but we will save that for another time.

Much has transpired since last I commented on TheMcKeeSpot. Let’s spend a few minutes and get everyone up to speed. Can’t you see how excited Jewel is…

My last post was the latest update of the Cerro Pelado fire. It was pressing close to town, and we were in the early stages of preparation to evacuate. Well that never happened. The fire crews were able to stem the tide and the fire was soon contained and a return to normal happened. I actually traveled through the fire area near Jemez Springs a few weeks ago on the back road to Los Alamos. Many trees scarred and lands burned. A beautiful fall day in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Late June brought travel and the subsequent return to another sense of normalcy…travel. And so, I traveled for work. And so, I returned, then spent three weeks recovering from COVID. Yes, despite getting the original vaccine, its follow-up, and then a booster, I entered the ranks of over half of the country and got COVID. It was three days of pure hell, between the 103-degree fever and massive headache, followed by three weeks of testing positive, lethargic and brain fog. And then it was done, and I returned to normal.

During the whole time, my evening taste test of bourbon did not fail me. I could taste it every night. So, I did not lose my taste, or smell. As summer turns into fall and soon winter will be upon us, one has to wonder if the return of COVID, the flue, or something else will transcend life as I know it?

The summer months were spent between work, and the occasional visit with the kids. Daughter turned 18 in July and her brother 15 in September.

They are both in high school. Where did the time go? Daughter is looking for college possibilities and has already been accepted into a couple. And they only accepted her and not the horses. She is still riding, but not as much as in the past. Both Roman and Ruby are doing well. Son continues to play video games, gripe about schoolwork, and has limited extra curricula activities.

September also found me travelling again, both for work and a trip to Bourbon and Beyond. Now who could not enjoy four days of food, drink and music. I had a great time getting away from here.

Outside work, nothing to really to report. I am still working. Jewel and I spend quiet evenings after work, reading or whatever needs to get done, as illustrated in the photo above. Soon I will be wrapping up my 32nd year. I am ready for retirement but with the Biden economy in the toilet, my kid’s college funds have lost over half their value. As a country, we had an election which failed to result in a change since over 70%, myself included, felt that the country was heading in the wrong direction. Our country is in decline. Our world is gravitating closer to war. I am afraid for what tomorrow will bring.

Sadly, I believe that this generation will inherit a country, a world, that is not better off than the previous generation.

More to come.

Categories
the week in review

Smokey or smoky

Well last week I wrote about the start of fire season and the fact that we were engulfed with the smoke from the Cerro Pelado fire, which started and was burning about 20 miles from us. As I left the house this morning to go to the monthly Cowboy Breakfast, the air was full of smoke and the ability to see the mountains was difficult because of the haze created by the smoke.

The smell of burnt wood was all around.

It was certainly smoky outside. After breakfast I returned home and started to prepare this weeks ramblings. Upon reviewing what I posted last week, there it was in front of me. I used the word smokey, spelled with an E, to describe what I just wrote above, which I wrote without the E. And so I wondered, what is the correct spelling or word usage? What is the correct term that I should be using?

Know I know that I am not the greatest linguist in the world. I will sometimes read my postings, especially those early on, and wonder who is the illiterate writing this. Should I go back and correct my bad English and spelling? I am constantly telling my children how it is important to learn to spell words correctly, to use words correctly in a sentence, and to be able to speak coherently. For them it is a work in progress. But for me, if I have problems, I just say that it is the CF in me. CF stands for Country Fu$&. Trying to use humor to correct my inability to speak correctly!

And so I scoured the internet in search of the correct spelling, the correct use for the word smoky, or smokey. I guess that I am not the only one who has opined about this difference in word spelling in the English language.

As an example, https://writingexplained.org/smokey-or-smoky-difference

commented on this very matter. In last weeks post I used the wrong spelling, which I corrected above for this weeks posting. I will have to check back to the website denoted above because it looks like there are lots of great words that have different spellings that people use interchangeably, and probably use them incorrectly, just as I did.

But this wasn’t the only place that wrote about the musings of smoky versus smokey. I also cam across https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/smokey-or-smoky. The Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) also wrote about the difference as fall fell into the western United States in September 2019. Looks like she offers lots of tips on how to write better and to project the proper use of English in speaking. I bookmarked her pages for a future visit since I find myself trying to improve my knowledge, skills and abilities. Finally, not to be outdone and not to add to the confusion, but Smokey the Bear (https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/exhibits/show/smokey-bear) is where the proper noun comes from.

Where was I, Aah yes…It is very smoky outside at this moment because of shifting winds and warming temperatures. The Cerro Pelado fire has doubled in size in a week but is still about 15 to 20 miles from Los Alamos. They have several crews working on it and the other dozen or so fires that are burning in the state at present. A concise update of several of the fires can be found at https://www.npr.org/2022/05/01/1095812382/new-mexico-wildfire-updates

Sadly, just think of all of the air pollution that could have been not created if our government did a much better job at prevention of the fires in the first place. Granted, we are in a drought , and have been that way for a number of seasons in the southwest. Water, that which is very important to humans, has been slowly becoming less and less in the southwest over the past couple of decades. Less snow in the winter. Less rain in the summer. Monsoon season has clearly dried up over the past number of years as I have lived in New Mexico.

New Mexico and other areas across the Southwest U.S. are affected by the North American Monsoon System, as the “Monsoon Season” is designated by the period lasting from June 15th through September 30th. With the onset of the Monsoon, New Mexico is typically impacted by a variety of weather hazards that can often put the population at risk for serious injury or death. Thunderstorm frequency increases during this period, while exceptionally hot days are common as well.  See the pages https://www.weather.gov/abq/prepawaremonsoonhome to become aware of the life-threatening weather hazards that affect New Mexico during the Summer Monsoon.

Not much else to comment on under the category “the week in review”. Kids are still in school. My daughter went to the prom this weekend. Gosh I feel old! Jewel is lying on the sofa next to me while I writ this post. Yesterday was the first day in weeks that I took her for a walk. We went to the vet a few weeks ago after she started limping and favoring her hind leg. And after a few week of rest, she still favors it but doesn’t appear to be in pain. I am guessing that we will have to make a return trip so as to get some x-rays to see what is really troubling her.

As for me, aside from work, I had to fix a broken fence at the stables yesterday. Ruby decided to kick the wood and essentially broke the 2 x 6 rail (photo below on the left). I was able to replace the lower rail after an hour (photo below on the right). As I get older, I notice that it gets harder to move, and as I try to do work such as this, the body aches more and more.

Needless to say, Ruby and Roman enjoyed my company, as I was able to give them horse cookies while I was there.

Ruby and Roman watching me clean up after fixing the fence. I am pretty sure that they are just looking for more cookies.

Much going on in the news over the past week. I found it very disturbing that Russia is still bombing the Ukraine. China appears to be taking their side, and yet is forging new ties with Iran. The world continues to drift towards two sides, separated by different ideologies. A separation which will only result in a death and destruction. The world remains an evil place, and I am afraid that the dogs of war are howling as time marches onward. I hope that I am wrong but I believe that I am not. The Russian leadership use the n-word, as in nuclear war and use of nuclear weapons, as if we are to shutter in fear at the mere mentioning of them. We should because neither side will gain from such an exchange. Since Russia and the United States have about 7,000 weapons pointed at each other, I think that the global annihilation of mankind is assured. And yes, China, England, France and a few other countries have about 1000 weapons as will certainly add to the destruction of planet earth.

Closer to home, the American economy if drifting towards recession, caused by inflation and supply chain issues. Yet our government fails to see the problem and relies on printing more money to solve our economic ills. I think that it is the inflation factor that still keeps me working. I was a teenager in the 70’s, when the misery index exceeded 18%. I saw my parents loose their jobs and the ills that inflation reeks on the family.

I have noticed of late that when I go out to eat, or go to the store, that I have to wait longer for service. And while the wait is longer, the service is not as good and the cost of goods and services is increasing without any restraint. Depending on where I go, a 20 oz cup of coffee is around 3 dollars, the breakfast burrito is about 7 dollars. And my splurge purchase, a Jack and Ginger was 12 dollars. Gasoline is holding at $4.29 a gallon but milk is almost 3 dollars a gallon. I went to get stamps last weekend and a roll of stamps was 58 dollars.

Yes, I still write checks to pay my bills. While you can do everything over the internet these days, you get hacked and then it is weeks, if not longer, to recover from the hack. I log onto the computer and they are always trying to save my passwords. Save my passwords on the computer. What happens when that website or that service gets hacked. No thanks, I still do it the old fashioned way. I write it down on a piece of paper that goes into a notebook.

Clearly, if I have to evacuate because of a raging fire, that notebook is at the top of my list of things to take with me. Until next time.

Categories
the week in review

Wind…and the start of fire season

The air in New Mexico this past week was cloudy and smokey. There was a large forest fire burning in Arizona. We have experienced that before with the fire in one state, even as far west as California, causing poor air quality hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.

And there were fires burning in New Mexico. Last weeks post mentioned a couple of the fires burning in the state. We have fires to the east of us. Fires to the South of us. And now, a fire close to us. About 20 miles away. This one started on Earth Day…April 22, 2022. They named it Cerro Pelado. Daughter pointed it out to me when she texted this photo from the stables, where she was feeding Ruby and Roman.

Daughter texted me this photo about 4:30 looking towards the southwest. It was about that time that a alert went out stating that route 4 into the Jemez Mountains had been closed.

In 24 hours, it has grown from 50+ acres to over 4600 acres. We haven’t had rain in the area for months. We have been in a drought for years now. And the snow pack is far less than desired, as the hot weather over the past few weeks has melted most of what had collected at the higher elevations. To make things worse, it has been very windy, with daily winds above 20, sometimes gusting to 30, 40, 50 miles per hour for the past few weeks.

At this moment, there are almost a dozen fires burning across New Mexico. For all, the cause of the fire is under investigation. The prognosis is that it will be a hot, and dry, and dangerous summer.

An image showing the fire outlook in New Mexico and Colorado. Copied from https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/04/21/extremely-critical-fire-weather-expected-friday-in-portions-of-new-mexico-and-colorado/.

Both kids were much younger when we had to evacuate Los Alamos due to the Las Conchas Fire in 2011. What I remember from that fire was tying my daughter’s riding horse “Spirit” onto the roof of the car because we had to save all of the animals. That fire burned over 150,000 acres. The family had evacuated for about a week to Albuquerque.

It was 11 years earlier that the Cerro Grande fire burned over 120,000 acres and caused about $1 billion dollars in damage. Some interesting discussion about the two fires and Los Alamos at https://forestpolicypub.com/2012/10/06/cerro-grande-post-fire-photos/. In addition, I posted a discussion about Cerro Grande previously at https://themckeespot.com/2020/05/13/anniversaries-of-sorts/.

With the onset of this latest forest fire, one begins to look around the house and think about what stays and what goes if the order to evacuate is received. Lots of stuff. Lots of junk. Lots of memories. Lots of pictures taken in case the house is burned down and you file a claim with your homeowners insurance.

One hopes that sufficient notice is provided should a mandatory evacuation order be given.

Of course, its an added complication when one has to evacuate the animals. No longer can I tie the horse to the roof of the car. Now room for these two…

Checking on Roman and Ruby on April 22, 2022. This photo was taken several hours before the photo above of the latest fire. It was a very windy day and so I was concerned about the barns and the horses as the winds gusted from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

So arrangements have been made that if the evacuation order is given, we will load the horses up and take them to stables south of Santa Fe. That means hitching up the trailer, loading the horses, grabbing some bales of hay and riding stuff. In addition, the dogs, and prized possessions of the kids, valuables and other stuff. So long as there is room.

Sadly, I do not know what I would do about the fish. Fill a smaller aquarium and throw it in the back of the car?

Welcome to the start of summer 2022. It has only been spring for about a month. Should be another interesting time.

Categories
Family

Happy Easter…where have the past two months gone! Much to report.

OMG it is Easter. No colored eggs, no chocolate’s or bunny paws around the house. Not even reservations for brunch. I did sleep in till 6 this morning, went to feed the horses and get some coffee at the local gas station. No Starbucks for me today.

It’s been a little over two months since my last post. Lots going on in the world. Russia decided to attack the Ukraine. I think Putin is trying to use war to restore Russia’s prominence in modern times. I think he is just wasting time. Biden is still running the US into ruin with the misery index at 12% (and rising). Worst president in American history. He should be impeached for his lack of action on the southern border alone! Hopefully come November, we can fix his sorry ass to a single term and get our country out of the ditch it finds itself in. Never heard so many lies coming from an administration that supports America last. The New York Times wants to end our beliefs in God. I am not a religious person but God does more than politicians do to help mankind. Sorry NYT, but there is more truth in the pages of the Old Testament as opposed to your Sunday edition. Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter to save free speech. I am pretty sure that the marshmallow and snowflake crowd will not support this because they do not like speech that while it is the truth, is considered vial and hateful. It is time the the participation trophy generation grow up.

With the COVID pandemic reduced to a reoccurring illness much like the flu, I think we are returning to a new sense of normal. The economy appears to be running even with inflation. The new normal is that there are plenty of job opportunities. Wait, are we not raising interest rates, inflation is near all time highs and economists are predicting a recession!

What do I mean by a new sense of normal. Well today we spend more time in lines waiting for service. I have spent more time in lines waiting for picking up a prescription, getting money from a bank teller, fast food, or getting in to see the doctor. This is the future America. Longer lines, and longer waits. We will no longer be separated by differences between the rich versus the poor. The rich will just end up paying more to not wait. As for the rest of us, bring a book as the lines and the waits will be longer in the future. I expect many more positions will be replaced by automation, or services to do your daily things. However, is it just me or has the postal service improved in terms of delivery. Amazon Prime and next day delivery is something that I have yet to experience!

As spring comes to New Mexico, we are reminded of high winds and the start of fire season. Ruidoso, a small town in the southern part of the state, lies in the mountains (much like Los Alamos), and yet has already experienced several deaths, houses and acreage burned with the first forest fire in the state, Or is it the second as fire burn east of Santa Fe (west of Las Vegas) in the Hermit’s Peak area of Santa Fe National Forest?

For me, these fires are the result of a lack of proper forest management. Sorry, but a controlled burn is not proper forest management. I remember Cerro Grande! We should be going into these area, reducing the brush and trees, actually using annual cutting of areas to manage the thickness of the forest and using the proceeds from selling the wood to defer the costs.

Closer to home, I continue to work. That said, I see that I am fairly certain that unless things change for the better, I will not be working much longer. The management team at Los Alamos is the most disingenuous of teams that I have ever experienced. They need to be replaced. Do not see that happening and so maybe it is time for me to call it a career and finally move on to the next stage of my life.

Our beloved dog Jewel may have a torn ACL. Earlier this week, she started limping and favoring her right hind leg. Upon closer inspection, it did not appear to be causing her too much pain and so I finally made our belated annual visit, Overall she is fine, put on a few COVID pounds (or is it table scraps), and is confined to rest for a few weeks to see if that doesn’t improve things. Otherwise we return for x-rays and probably surgery in a few weeks.

Jewel waiting for the Vet to check her out.

Better start saving my pennies because I am guessing that orthopedic surgery for a dog isn’t cheap.

Speaking of saving pennies and inflation, I have seen it in several examples of late. My family container of Oreo’s went up in price and there are less cookies. It is clear that my pizza, whether it is Domino’s or Papa Murphy’s, is using less ingredients. And I swear that the size of a medium or large is shrinking. And the Domino’s delivery charge went up. But my best example of inflation is with Banquet chicken.

I love fried chicken.

The box of frozen chicken was the usual amount, at $8.49 a box. However, I was surprised to open it up and remove only four pieces of chicken, not the usual six, seven, or eight. I previously wrote about inflation on October 6, 2019 and there commented on oreo’s, ritz crackers and a few other things. At least the chicken pieces were the same size. But if I was complaining about inflation in 2019 when Trump was President, just think how bad it is under Biden.

Not sure which is cheaper, hay for the horses or Doritos?

No, I didn’t feed Roman Doritos. But it certainly looks like he is interested. Recently we had to get delivery of hay for the horses. With the price of gasoline and diesel increasing, the cost of hay will certainly increase. I was able to get a nice mix of Timothy/Brome from Northern New Mexico (second cutting) delivered. Our normal deliveries from Southern Colorado, also Timothy/Brome, do not start until July. With two horses we are eating more and were running very low. I am glad that I was able to get a delivery. And the horses appear to enjoy it and do not notice a big difference.

Ruby and Roman this Easter morning before feeding. A beautiful spring day in New Mexico.

But it has been very windy and I have had to make some emergency repairs to the roof on the barn. Hopefully they will hold until I can make permanent and replace some rotted wood. This time, I think we can apply some paint to the wood instead of just letting it weather naturally. More work for me and son to tackle as spring turns into summer. Between the roof, the deck, the barns and the fence; I probably will need to work throughout the summer to pay the bills.

Son and daughter waiting for Dinner one afternoon at Denny’s. Today’s kids are glued to their iPhone’s and mine are no different.

The kids had late March/early April off for spring break. Daughter went to check out some colleges in Colorado. That prospect alone should make me think that I need to continue working for at least several more years. Son spent the week home with me as I worked and he played video games. He just wanted to rest from school. I am sure that he is anxious for the COVID years to become a memory, albeit a bad memory! However, we did sneak away to Albuquerque for a day to enjoy all the big city has to offer.

Son and I managed to get away for a day during spring break where we spend several hours at Dave and Buster’s for lunch and arcade games.

Daughter is growing up too fast. Yesterday it was driving lessons. Today it is the prom. Son is finishing up middle school; not sure what the summer will bring. As for me, I managed a return to normal by spending a recent afternoon in Santa Fe dinning at Red Lobster. When I first got to New Mexico, it was a monthly ritual that I looked forward to. With the kids, not so much. Still tastes good and something to look forward to in the years and decades ahead.

Returning to normal. I made it to Red Lobster. Yes…seafood in the Southwest.

And saving the best for last. I am looking froward to seeing Pearl Jam sometime this summer. While it has been about 8 months since Sea Hear Now 2021 in Asbury Park, NJ. It will be good to hit the road to explore some new place over a long weekend. There I will get to enjoy great music, take in some sights and sounds, enjoy food and rest from the hustle and bustle of life.

And saving the best for last. Pearl Jam will kick off a North American tour in early May and I have tickets for one…and maybe four shows.

I am still contemplating a return to Sear Hear Now 2022, where Green Day and Stevie Nicks are scheduled to appear. Until next time. It is mid April. I will turn 61 soon and so I want to wish all of my friends, relatives and colleagues (Scott, John, cousin Mike, and Jim…Happy Birthday).

Categories
the week in review

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Greetings to everyone from cloudy and cold Los Alamos New Mexico. It is a cold Sunday. Earlier this week we managed to see single digit temperatures and over 8 inches of snow. The winter weather caused me to work from home for two days while road crews, work crews and whomever else had to do whatever they do in order to make roads and parking lots usable.

When I awoke last Wednesday morning at my usual time, work was on a delay and it was snowing outside. Only about 4 inches had fallen by 3 am, but it was windy and the temperature was below zero with the wind chill. Needless to say, Jewel and I had to venture out to check on the weather.

Jewel and I venture out in the cold and blowing snow

Often what I do is post pictures from these walks on Facebook so friends and coworkers who are driving from afar to work can gauge the travel conditions. Didn’t see any snow plows on our walk but there were cars. Because it was very cold, and the snow was very fine, Jewel and I were unable to finish our normal loop, as it was freezing and bothering her paws.

Looking west down Trinity Drive during the snowstorm
of February 2, 2022 at 5 am.

By 6 am, it was still snowing and the wind was still blowing and the temperature was still below zero. The powers that be canceled work, or at least closed the lab for the day. Ditto with school. However, if one could telework, one should telework. The fact is that COVID has ended the snow day. If you can work from home, one can telework. If you cannot access work or do work via computer, then it is report pay. This is what we would historically call a snow day. BUT, if you could telework but didn’t want to telework, well then, that is called vacation! The kids don’t teleschool and so they just do homework on their computers, if they are not watching YouTube or playing computer video games.

I have previously mentioned that I do not like to work from home. I need to keep that separation. Well I managed to telework for about half of the day and then took the other half as vacation. Telework cuts into my productivity significantly. If it isn’t the fact that the computer connection is bad, I typically do not have certain files available, or data printed out and at my fingertips. Between the cell phone and the internet, one can work from just about anywhere.

Anyway, the snow continued to fall. I think that I posted numerous updates on my Facebook page as the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing. Had to shovel the walk three, maybe four times throughout the day. By the evening, it was announced that school was cancelled for the second day, and the same was true with work. Yet I had too much to do and so on Thursday, February 3rd, I was working from home the entire day.

Thursday morning rolled around and after several hours of working from home, I ventured out to survey the damage. You see, if you get up early, work starts early. One doesn’t have to shower, or for that matter, get dressed. All you need is the internet, your computer, and of course, coffee. By that time I ventured out, the sun was just starting to come up. The wind was still blowing and it had stopped snowing. I measured 8 inches on the back porch. So Jewel and I took a drive to get a breakfast burrito.

Looking east driving down Trinity
Looking west driving down Trinity

In general, the roads were snow packed and icy in some spots. Side streets and many parking lots were covered in snow. Some traffic, especially at the McDonald’s drive thru was out and about as well. Chile Works, where I typically get my burrito, was not very busy. Nonetheless, my burrito certainly hit the spot. And since I typically get mine with green chile, Jewel just has to sit and watch me eat.

And the kids had no school for a second day. Of course, daughter had to go to the stables to feed Roman and Ruby. As it was still single digits outside and the wind was still blowing, one had to check and make sure that they were fine. Daughter let me know that I needed to buy our stable neighbor a bottle of whiskey. He had managed to plow the stable roads long before the county ventured out to do the same.

Daughter letting Ruby try on her winter wolf hat.
Of course, daughter needs to see if Roman likes the hat as well.

We finally received our first real snowfall of the year. We can certainly use the snow. I hope that we get more so as to reduce the drought conditions in the state, and for much of the Southwest. In my 31 years here, we have seen snow as early as October and as later as June.

I am sure that the ski hill was very popular as it was able to open. It is only 10 minutes from town. Of course Jewel does not like the deep snow and so she leaves me presents on the deck. No photographs here.

And so, by Friday, life returned to normal. The roads were plowed completely, and parking lots could accommodate both vehicles and massive piles of snow. I went to work at my usual time. Jewel was glad to rest while I was at work. The sun was out, and the snow was beginning to melt. As I get older, I find myself enjoying the cold and wind and snow less and less.

With that, until next time.

Categories
the week in review

…tis the end of January 2022

Good morning everyone. I cannot believe that it is already the final few days of January. February is just around the corner. I have been awake for several hours now. Did some light reading than rose from bed to put a load of laundry into the washing machine. This has often been my typical routine of late as I try to figure out how to spend the day and the week.

Last week I found myself on travel. Work related, having to travel back east to Savannah River for a number of meetings. As with all travel that I have done of late, it completely disrupts my routine, resulting in the addition of unnecessary pounds for myself. Found full planes and no issues, delays, COVID or weather impacts. Masks required for planes, airports and some other locations. Largely not required for eating and drinking establishments in the state of South Carolina. Yes, the source of my extra pounds. Refreshing to see this, and old colleagues, and to think that we may be returning to normal.

Kids are back to school after their bout of COVID. Daughter resumed the daily care and feeding of the horses. I worry about son and how the past two years have taken much away from him. The whole on-line learning has not been good. How are we, as parents, to reduce his screen time from video games when school is now on-line? And it is not as if they are watching a video feed of the teacher in the classroom.

As for me, I remain lucky, knowing that it is just a matter of time before I too will become sick. We are told to follow the science but it has become more about politics and less about science. As with so many things about science in the mainstream anymore. Testing appears to be difficult to find. As a nation, I think we find ourselves weary of the pandemic. In talking with people, they are ready to return to a normal life.

I have to wonder how we can talk about normal in an environment where inflation is around and is impacting the cost of everything. People will want to travel but everything costs more, or is difficult to find, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. I know that I have cut back on my spending, trying to pay my bills, pay down debt, and save more. As I prepare for retirement, I watch the daily declines in the market. I see that my children’s college fund has also taken a hit. All of that makes me think that I need to work just a little longer.

But how much longer? This weekend I said bon voyage to a coworker and friend, who has left for a change of station. We had dinner and drinks Friday night and he dropped off a few things yesterday that he would have thrown out but didn’t want to waste. A couple of fishing rods, some laundry detergent, Kleenex, coffee, green chile vodka. His plans are to endure a year, maybe two in Washington and then to retire. As for me, its 31 years 1 month and 13 days. But who is keeping track? Sadly, I will miss our Sunday morning coffee cabals, or the occasional trips to the brew pub. They were great in that it got me out of the house, if only for a few hours.

Well it is a cold and cloudy 24 in Los Alamos as I write this. Jewel hasn’t had a walk in a week. While the kids did a great job of taking care of her with the feeding twice a day and letting her out for awhile, I am sure that she too could use a stretch of the legs. And so with that in mind, I will end this post and walk the dog. Until next time, stay safe, happy reading and be kind to everyone you meet. I have some Sunday reading to wrap up, some work related work to do and yes, begin that effort in which Americans refer to as tax time.