Family life

Is it May already?

I cannot believe that we have entered the month of May. Allergies are bothering me to the point where I need to take the usual drugs in order to get through the day. The first several months of this year have just flown on by. We have already passed Cinco De Mayo. I have had another birthday, 62, and find myself still working. March flew by like a lion. The weather is starting to improve, yet a couple of weeks ago we had snow. Soon it will be summer, and the kids will be out of school for the summer.

Tis a typical Sunday that I find myself up somewhat early. Having tea and breakfast. Laundry is done. The dog is fed. Need to take some items to the recycling bins (glass and cardboard boxes). Vacuum cleaner needs to be run; a general spring cleaning is necessary. Yard needs to be cleaned up, especially since Jewel uses it a lot. Virginia creeper runs amuck along the once fence. If I don’t thin it out, it grows across the canopy of trees and slowly kills them. My backyard is a mess that is in need of some revitalization. I think about it every year but never really get any backyard project started. Yet it is time to plant the tomatoes in the deck box.

Ditto with the projects at the stables. Some of the wood in the buildings needs to be replaced. The wind can blow quite excessively, causing damage. The fence needs replaced in areas; a good coat of paint would improve the aesthetics of the place. Alas, soon it will be time to cut the grass, bail hay for the horses, and in general, try to keep up with the chores.

Soon I will find myself at the high school graduation. I cannot believe my little girl is 18 and a senior. Seems like it was just yesterday when she was doing little girl things. Where did the time fly? Soon it will be off to college and then taking care of the horses while she is away. Son will have wrapped up a very difficult freshman year. What will we have him do this summer?

This summer, I have taken a vow of sorts to do things that I want to do. Camping and other weekend getaways. Get to the gun range and target practice. Hiking and yes, some fishing. I want to sit under a tree and read books, to go to fancy restaurants, waste hours in bookstores, drink wine and visit microbreweries. Long weekend trips to visit friends, museums, art galleries.

Some of the planning is coming together for summer concerts. Robert Plant and Alison Kraus in Taos, Bruce Spingsteen and The E Street Band, and perhaps even Pearl Jam.

Yet I need a new iPhone, put the car into the garage, what else?

Well it’s a nice day and so I might as well see what I can accomplish. Until next time.

Uncategorized whatever

In the aftermath of COVID

I submit that we have returned to near normal after the past three years of COVID. That does not mean that it is gone. It is still out there, lurking in the shadows of everyday life as another virus that can interfere with us. I am hopeful that we have learned something as a society in the aftermath of COVID, but I am afraid not.

I was on travel the other week for work. Airplanes and airports are very busy. I am afraid that this is a simple fact that we have more people than our country can support, as much as it is of a return to near normal. Anyway, when I got to my work travel location, I was informed that a coworker had tested positive for COVID and was home. Of course, I, sitting in an office across the country, heard this and had to wonder if I too was going to test positive, get sick, or contribute to a new outbreak. As you see, as I was being told this, I wasn’t really feeling 100%. But I was on travel, and I always feel bad for a couple days after being locked up for hours in an airplane. It goes without saying but I always get ill after air travel. They claim that they have micropore filters and that they clean after every flight and that all is well. Doesn’t matter, I still get sick.

However, in my case, it turned out to not be COVID. The pollen count was up from the pine trees. Some loratadine and Flonase and I was back to my old self. And to be safe, a few COVID tests confirmed that I was not a walking typhoid Mary.

Conversely, my son missed most of February due to a sinus infection. It lingered for about four weeks after first not getting any antibiotics, to getting the wrong antibiotics, to just missing so much school and homework that he was suffering. Yet he didn’t have COVID either, although we had to test him multiple times for strep, RSV, COVID and the flu.

But it is still around. It will be with us forever they say. Biden still has all of the emergency aspects in place that were around with COVID. Pretty sure that he would try to spend billions more in COVID emergency aid if he could. The truth is now the subject of hearings, as to its origins. Perhaps they will have hearings as to how drugs were brought to market so fast, as the real complications of the vaccines emerge.

In my annual physical with my primary doctor, he had asked if I had all my COVID boosters. I said no. I had the original two shots, the 3rd shoot (the booster after the fact) but that I did not have the new COVID vaccine cocktail. I asked why since I managed to get COVID anyway. His response was that it probably wasn’t as severe, as I have a couple of health matters that would put me at higher risk, it would be advantageous. I argued natural immunity. In the end, we agreed to disagree. I keep looking for the data just to see how well things are since we have had inoculated millions, including myself. What health effects will we see down the road?

I’m guessing that the concept of masks will be with us forever. Every time I go to the hospital, I am required to wear a mask. The COVID aftermath created new litter that I see along the road, in the parking lots, all over. The mask! Whether it is cloth, KN95, something else, it now represents additional trash produced by our society and discarded without abandoned.

As we had mask, antibiotic, food and other shortages for basic good as they are no longer manufactured in this country, I would hope that we invest in returning the basic manufacturing needs for everyday life in this country. I’m not saying that we should make toasters, but there are things that we still experience shortages because of the supply chain.We go for the cheap but fail to understand the costs when we are without. They can be significant. Antibiotics is a key one. How many people would stay ill, or get worse, or die if we didn’t have access to antibiotics? I understand that we don’t make many of these drugs today here. We have drug shortages for many drugs important to our daily lives. The only drug that appears to be in unlimited supply and has Chinese origins is Fentanyl. We can thank Joe Biden for that!

As for now, both my son and I want to lose that extra weight that I attribute to COVID. The inability to go out and about, the daily sitting, has contributed to our individual BMI’s. As daughter got out every day to feed the horses, she didn’t suffer as much as we did.

However, the consequences of the COVID aftermath are all around us. Closed restaurants and other businesses that we enjoyed and shopped at; long lines in those places that remained open as there are fewer people to support the business. Lines are longer, waits are more. Shortages still exist as some of the isles in the grocery store remain baren. Small business is critical to towns and society. Sadly, our society continues to rot away. A frayed moral fabric continues to show our decline. Less civility has been replaced with more senility.

The tear of our social fabric is long and deep and will be with us longer than the mutations of COVID. I really do not care where it came from, although I believe more in the lab-leak theory. One of the lingering issues from the COVID years is that many conspiracy theories have turned out to be closer to the truth than the fake media wants you to believe! I do care as to whether it was natural or created by man and accidentally released. More to the point, what are we going to do to keep that from happening in the future.

The world is comprised of evil despots who want to destroy us. It would be nice if we could live together.

The whole inflation situation that we find ourselves in today, I am afraid, will be with us for a long while. I believe that the two separate issues of inflation and the COVID support are tied together. Free money allowed people the opportunity not to work. Yet, now that there is no more free money, where are all of the workers? They all did not retire. They all did not die or develop a health condition that keeps them from working. Did the free money allow people to unleash their rugged individualism? Allow them to develop self-sustaining farms? Unleash millions in investments so that work was no longer required? In all cases, the free ride that America has taken, since before COVID and continues to this day, is a bill that will soon be coming due. I am afraid that it will get worse before it gets better.

Sadly, our children suffered. They suffered way too much. Issues associated with their mental health are increasing. They lost critical educational years of school but will probably not be noticed given how bad the American educational system has become. Sadly, yet another indicator of our declining society. Yet another aspect of the simple truth that we are not leaving our country and our world, in a better place than what we inherited. I wonder, and I worry how bad things will become for my children.

ramblings of a madman

My Second Post of the Year

My Second Post of the Year comes at the start of the third month of 2023. I have wanted to do better, and my list of topics continues to grow, but my time to devote on the writing has been short. Many topics beyond the normal ramblings of a madman currently populate my list. I notice that when the weekend comes, I find myself preoccupied with a great many things. And so, by Sunday, I just want to ignore everybody and everything. This leaves me to either read a book, vegetate on a movie or documentary, or even just sleep.

This weekend was no exception. Unfortunately, I returned from a week of travel and had much to catch up on. Saturday, I slept because I really don’t sleep well on travel. I ended up sleeping most of the day, after sleeping in. Needed to go to the grocery store as the house was out of food. Yet I slept and will defer that shopping, paying the bills, doing the laundry and general cleaning, until today.

This morning was quite productive. Bills paid. Taxes finished, but not yet sent. Sadly, this year I will be paying instead of getting a refund. Not surprised given Biden’s desire to tax everybody to pay for his progressive (socialist) agenda of illegals, climate change, criminal justice, reparations, student loans. Inflation is up, income is down, and I have certainly reduced my spending on things that I do not need or want.

Side note. Noticed a sign about highway construction upon my travel return, touting that the road construction was paid by his “Build Back Better” act. Odd since the construction started a year before his build back better bill was passed. Our governor was spending millions that she did not have upcoming to this past election, starting road projects that are still setting idle, years after the signs were put up, the orange cones were placed, lanes were reduced, and the occasional bulldozer was parked near the construction.

As I said, bills are paid. I still pay most of my bills the old-fashioned way. I get a statement, I write a check, I mail the bill. I do not like paying bills online. Every month it seems that I get a notice about this or that account having been “hacked”. They set you up with a service to view whether your information is being used, diverted, sold. They never pay you for your time to check your information, replace your credit cards, update changes, the sudden increases in unwanted e-mails. I want my privacy. That comes at a cost to me. One that I am willing to pay for.

Yes, I still balance my checkbook. Every few months, I order new checks. I go to the post office and get stamps. I have a supply of envelopes. I don’t save any money by not paying bills this way. I don’t save any money by paying bills electronically, either. The companies claim that it saves money.

Does it save them money? I am not sure. They just nickel and dime you. Every month it is something different. If not them directly, well then, they just past on the costs to you. My Verizon bill was two cents more this month than last month. Why? Because the State of New Mexico increased the state rural universal service fund monthly surcharge per communication connection. What is the state rural universal fund? Well, it is a broadband program that offers digital equity and digital inclusion in rural areas of the state of New Mexico. Not sure if my service gets any better. On a daily basis, I think about half of my cellphone calls do not connect. Over at Comcast, NBCUniversal will no longer include Peacock Premium with my Xfinity service at no additional charge. In other words, my HD Preferred Plus package will be going up in price with less service or an option unavailable. With everything going to streaming services, I am afraid that what I want to watch will cost me more what it’s all over. Stop watching altogether will become the end state.

Corporate America just continues to nickel and dime you. Amazon increases the cost for Prime, yet very few movies are available at no cost, and when did they last send a package with next day delivery? The credit card companies are the worst. The prime interest rate is less than 5%, yet your credit card interest is almost 17%. I pay my bills on time. And damn, I even paid my student loans! Should I not get a discount as a preferred customer? Of late, the balance is paid in full each and every month. OK, so you don’t want to pay electronically, well, we will send you the statement, but no envelope to pay the bill. But do you have to send a bill when the balance is zero dollars?

What I would like is one company to do all of my business. My banking and pay a decent interest rate on my savings. Instead of 0.1% interest, how is it that other places can pay 3%? 4%? Offer a credit card that pays what I actually cost them for interest because my credit is good. How about insurance? My auto insurance, my homeowner’s insurance, my other insurance has all seen increases this past year. Yet I have never filed a claim. Healthcare, the list goes on and on.

I have started to plan a vacation for later this year, thinking that I will spend more time locally, with weekend getaways. And I want to get out and do some camping this year! Concerts will probably be few and far between, but I am working on that list.

The world around us isn’t that much better. As I get older, I see that it is getting worse. I see that the world that I am leaving for my children is in decline. The war in Ukraine continues. America continues its increasing debt drive into becoming a third world country. In short, our leaders fail to hold themselves, and the people, accountable for the problems. The crash is coming, and I hope that people are preparing.

Of late, I have also found myself using Sunday as a day to cook meals for the week. As the cold and snow continues into March in Northern New Mexico, I see myself thinking about a making some chili for the week. Not the New Mexico kind with Hatch Green Chile but rather the Texas kind, with beans and veggies.

And so, on that note, it’s time for laundry and off to the store. May these words find you safe and healthy. Until next time.


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.


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.

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!

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.


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.

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,

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 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 ( 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

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 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.

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

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 In addition, I posted a discussion about Cerro Grande previously at

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.