TheMcKeeSpot is a blog by Steven McKee. The purpose of this blog is for me to explore things that interest me as I plan for my next 50-plus years on this planet. Starting out, I am writing about my family and activities, but as time progresses, it will be about anything. Stay tuned, check in often and enjoy the ride.
It has been almost two weeks since my last post. I am still in a funk. I am still frustrated. Whether it is at work, at home, or talking to the kids, this blasé feeling continues.
I find myself thinking a lot about it. Why am I frustrated? What is causing my funk? It could be caused by a great many things in my life. I look around at the insanity that there is in the country, in the world. I look inward and wonder about my own sanity. What is it?
Sometimes writing helps, but the fog bank that covers my mind is fairly significant. Writing reports at work is long stretches of sitting at the computer staring at the monitor. I try talking to my kids, to my coworkers, my friends. I cannot put my finger on the problem. What is the problem? Should I be concerned?
I remember one morning about seven years ago feeling like this for quite sometime. Going through some heavy things, divorce and all of that. I was pissed. I was getting screwed. I was confused. What did I do wrong? Long sleepless nights. Well that one day, I think I got up and thought I would go to work early…too early. Could not sleep. Drove to my office and thought this was all bullshit! Turned the car around and went for a drive. Drove from Los Alamos to Telluride. That is over 300 miles on some fairly scenic roads. Driving the back roads of Colorado, snow on the peaks, green forests. Managed to get to the New Sheridan Hotel in time for lunch. It was a beautiful day.
Walked in to the bar and ordered a beer. That was it. Had a cold beer.
Finished the beer and walked out of the hotel. It wasn’t even a fancy beer. But it was cold and quenched my thirst. I was relaxed. The first time in a long time. It was a beautiful day. Took a deep breath, got back in the car and drove home. Forgot about everything that was bothering me. They say that driving can do that. Not sure if it was the serenity of the countryside, the carefree attitude of just blowing off work, the stress in my life, the fresh air. I love Telluride and wish that I could live there all year round.
Anyway, I returned to my reality and realized that I blew off work, blew off picking up the kids, blew off the world around me. All of those stressors suddenly came back. People were out looking for me. My phone had literally hundreds of text messages. I had turned the damn thing off before the trip. The police were out looking for me. I didn’t call into work so there was the whole fitness for duty matter. I was relaxed and at peace. I did nothing wrong, was in complete control of my faculties. I felt great. I actually chuckled at the whole thing. The first really humorous thing that made me laugh in a long while.
I have been cogitating on this article now for about two weeks. Of late I have been distracted, trying to work through some other issues that have consumed lots of time and have kept me from even writing and thinking about what to write. Maybe I have been having my own little atomic protest inside my head…
Early August brings to Los Alamos a number of protestors who spend several days protesting the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the modern day efforts associated with Los Alamos and our nations nuclear stockpile.
This year marks the 74th anniversary of those events of August 6th and August 9th. To the best of my knowledge, there we no protests, no silent prayers or people with signs at Ashley Pond. The was no Hollywood type marching across the bridge from the town to the lab to get arrested. To the best of my knowledge, there was no one. And since I live a couple of blocks from downtown Los Alamos, I would have noticed. There was not even a candle lit. There was no master management memo telling employees how to handle the protesters. There was nothing.
Nothing remains of the picture above, except for Fuller Lodge and Bathtub Row and the pond (upper right hand corner of the photo). The Laboratory buildings of the Manhattan Project were torn down when the lab moved across the canyon to where it sits today and the townsite expanded as the Cold War evolved. Today Ashley Pond is a peaceful park in the center of town, often the center of concerts, people exercising, people walking with their kids and or dogs, picnics, and a quiet place to get outside.
Anyway, the groups usually protest with signs and hold candlelight services around the Pond itself. The groups, depending upon the year, number from a couple to a few tens of people. In 1999, there were over 400 protestors.
This year there were none.
Last year there were about 85 people, according to the local press. Some were here to protest the 73rd anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Others were here to protest President Trump, who was dealing with North Korea at the time. A third group was here protesting the Laboratory and its ongoing work it nuclear weapons and pit manufacturing.
Probably the best article that I have read about the protestors can be found is entitled “Breaking Through the Normalcy of Los Alamos on Hiroshima Day” by Rev John Dear. To summarize his article, “the normalcy of Los Alamos is so inhumanly, grotesquely, demonically abnormal as to seem perfectly reasonable.” The article can be found at
Nothing was written and there was silence this year. Aside from an article about a group protesting in April at the Trinity Site in southern New Mexico, all I could find was an August 22 article in the LA Times. The article, which can be found at
Today was orientation for my daughter who is going into 9th grade. After a morning orientation for her, a one hour orientation for the parents, I had to double check her registration since she was out last week. The main office had no idea what we were talking about. After a few phone calls and questions, we were able to get things taken care of so she can start school tomorrow.
First up was to pick up her Chromebook. Let me say at the outset that I don’t think highly about Google. It is clear that they have a monopoly on the internet, and want to take over computers and phones and manage your house. That’s too much control and they really need to do a better job at privacy and protection of personal information. I’ll save that for another time.
Next up was to gather her textbooks. They were closed. So since we had time before lunch and to get son squared away, we stopped by the office to make sure she was registered correctly, and check out her locker and walk around the campus so she understood where all of her classrooms are housed. The campus has multiple buildings.
It was there that she zinged me. I asked if they could help me with my PowerSchool log-in. I was having trouble and could not get in. PowerSchool allows me, as the parent, to check grades, her assignments, and a bunch of things. I commented that we didn’t have these issues when I was in high school 40 years ago. Her response was “well father, back then they did not have technology”. I turned, laughed and. Said “yes, we had typewriters”.
That started a whole conversation about how stressful things have become for kids. The assistant, who was younger than I said that “back then, we didn’t have to worry about things because if you did something stupid, looked bad, whatever. Today it is photographed and on the internet”. My response was, “that was true, but I can find photos of me that would fit these characterizations”. She was right, it wasn’t that they didn’t exist, it was that they would be available for all to see, instantaneously, today because of the internet. In my age, I still had control of the media, who could see these things, so on and so forth. Today everything is instantaneous. That is why today we must have instant satisfaction, instant gratification. No patience. In my day, we had to be patient Time was our friend.
Today, time isn’t a factor because everything happens at the speed of light. We do not have the time to appreciate the finer things, to contemplate what we are doing, to venture down a road that is a bad decision and contemplate our actions.
We need to start thinking for the long term. Contemplate before you act. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy those moments. I enjoyed mine today. Not to be outdone, son also got to meet his teacher and we checked out his classroom. He will also do well this year I am certain. His teacher is the same teacher as my daughter had when she was in 6th grade. She had fun. I am hoping the same for him.
Tomorrow is the day before the first day of school. Daughter has a morning of orientation and registration. Son has an afternoon meet and greet with his teacher, and a haircut and a fitting for glasses. I cannot believe that summer is over.
Where did the summer go? I had plans for weekend trips and camping with the kids; quiet excursions to coffee shops to read and to work on the stable. I did none of this.
For daughter, much of her summer was spent riding and not doing much of anything else. Riding did not fill her day, nor did she ride everyday. The rest of her day was spent drawing, listening to music and computer games with her friends. As for the riding, she would work harder and ride daily as time got close to competitions. She competed in several events this year, from The Eventing X Games at Goose Downs, the Coconino Horse Trials and the USPC Championships Central Region. She placed individually and as member of a team in some but not all of the competitions.
She was part of the Southwest Pony Club team and they managed several first place finishes last week at the USPC Championships (photo above) Riding will continue with the start of school and so we shall see how things go for the rest of the year.
But school comes first and in the case of daughter, she will be starting 9th grade. My teenager is starting high school.
For son, he spent much of the summer in several week day camps. They included art camp, two weeks of hiking and nature camp and two weeks of a computer game programming camp. The summer art camps were not as good as the school year Wednesday art camps, and we still had problems with him being challenged at the schools and being bullied. Still, he had a good summer, with four of his pieces getting into the end of year art show at Fuller Lodge (photo lower left). Unfortunately, he spent too much time on the computer playing games, but let’s hope that 6th grade will temper his game playing as school becomes more challenging for him.
I think if you ask him, his best day of the summer was when I took him to Dave and Busters for the afternoon (photo upper right). I had fun as well.
Summer is almost over. No trips, concerts, or even weekend getaways for me. I find myself still in my funk and think I need to just get away from work for awhile. Or perhaps a major change.
Today is Sunday August 4. Spent the better part of the past 3 days contemplate my future. In the background is the Fox News broadcast “Life, Liberty & Levin”. I seldom watch the news on TV, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching. The platform is a question and answer session, which is better than many of the talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum. The subject is a discussion about the second Cold War with Niall Ferguson. It entails an economic war as opposed to a military conflict, but that the long view is that China will win because they take a long-term view and that our political system will rive change and we will loose site on the long term. Interesting conversation. I have long found that the interface between economics and history/politics interesting. If I had been smarter, perhaps I could have made a career in the field.
Daughter leaves for the US Pony Club National Championships central region. The competition is in Colorado this year, which is a 6 hour trip near Denver. Son and I will stay home to keep the stress down. I wish her luck in all of the events that she is competing in. Hopefully she will remain n the horse and finish. Both she and Ruby have been practicing hard the past several weeks. She will be competing in show jumping and eventing.
Friday I managed to visit with my financial guy to review my status on the path towards retirement. While I am on tract, I have a few areas to clean up. The discussion covered numerous areas beyond just focusing on 401k balances, debt, and what I plan to do after retirement. Of course, plans are always subject to change. Given the current political climate, I am concerned that much could change and destroy my plans and my future.
Then of course, we had another weekend of a lone gunmen and mass killings. I am pro gun and believe that guns don’t kill people, rather people kill people. That said, I have no problems with background checks, licenses and insurance much like one has for an automobile, keeping automatic guns out of the hands of people, and mental health. You need to keep guns out of the hands of some people. The issue then becomes how. You also need to acknowledge that if people want to harm others, they will. I get a check up annually as far as my mental health as required for my job and my employer. Sadly, I am afraid that the increases in gun killings recently has more to do with the declines in our society and it’s values, the fact that we continue to lesson the value of human life. This is in opposition to those who subscribe to a theory that the increase is associated with the number of guns available.
There is much hate these days, and it surfaces on social media often. Politically, we are divided as a nation and it shows in many areas. I will have more to say about these topics as we continue on the journey of this blog.
FRUSTRATION – the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something.
FUNK – a state of depression. The dumps. The doldrums.
It has been about ten days since my last post to The McKeeSpot. Of late, I have found myself in a funk, frustrated with work, frustrated with myself and where I am in my life. Over the years I often find myself looking internally over time. It’s always good to evaluate life, identify opportunities to grow, to change. Decisions made, questioning and reflection.
This frustration and funk has led to a haze where I think of a subject for the blog, start to jot down a few lines, but I simply could not complete the thought. It was not coherent, cohesive, or even interesting. This funk has lasted for awhile over the past few weeks, and to varying degrees. I still like my job, overall. Great people. Everyday is a new challenge. However of late, I find it more and more difficult to go to work everyday. Not great in starting my day as a cremudgeon. Overall my health is good, I am at good point in my life. Am I being accurate? Truthful?
It often overshadows my morning meetings and coffee cabel.
I see elements of this frustration and funk everyday at work. I am taking longer to complete work products, reviews, documents. Earlier this year I developed a presentation to introduce new and young staff on the project I manage. It was well received. However, putting that presentation into an article that can be published has advanced slowly over the past several months. Why is that? Too much work, too little time, too many demands on my time, striving for perfection, details that need to be reviewed, tested and implemented. I see lots of anger in the words that I have drafted for the paper. That anger is the closest that I have come to express my frustration with work.
These details exist across the program, across the multiple work products, across my coworkers. I sense that I am not alone in these issues at work. Management fails to see it, comment on it, assist in reducing it. There may be part of the problem.
Could it be that I have done a poor job evaluating my life, opportunities to grow, to change? Have I ignored the signs that could have led me in another direction? Is it that I never experienced a mid-life crisis? Are past decisions coming back to nag my subconscious? I am keeping it to myself, keeping it internalized isn’t a better situation.
Saturday, July 20th was my 40th high school reunion. I am a graduate of the Class of 1979 from Chief Logan High School in Lewistown, Pa. If my memory is correct, I was one of 243 students in our class.
The former Chief Logan Joint High School was changed in 2011 to the Mifflin County Junior High School. The change was associated with cost cutting and decline in the population of school age children. The building itself was built in 1957 and has gone through several upgrades over the years. The school itself sits near Pleasant Acres, a housing community situated between Lewistown and Burnham. Many of my friend lived in Pleasant Acres. My best friend from high school lived about a block from the school.
We were the Chief Logan Mingos, named after the Indian Logan. Logan was born in Pennsylvania circa 1725. Logan’s father was a Cayuga American Indian named Shikellamy. Shikellamy later renamed his son after James Logan, a prominent Pennsylvanian. He lived near what is present-day Lewistown in the late 1760’s to early 1770’s. He later resettled to Ohio near Yellow Creek, a village of Seneca-Cayuga natives. Logan became a war leader but continued to urge his fellow Cayuga not to attack whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed on May 3, 1774, when a group of Virginia settlers murdered approximately one dozen Seneca-Cayuga. Among them were Logan’s mother and sister. Logan demanded that the Seneca-Cayuga and their allies, principally the Shawnee, revenge the deaths of his loved ones. Cornstalk, a prominent Shawnee leader, still called for peace, but Logan ignored him. He conducted raids in western Pennsylvania, killing thirteen whites in retaliation for the Seneca-Cayuga deaths. His attacks, and escalating Anglo-American settler aggression against the Ohio Country’s American Indian peoples, resulted in Lord Dunmore’s War.
In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Seneca-Cayuga villages, which wereabandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, sent one thousand men to the Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and attack the Shawnee. Many of the tribe, who had experienced a change of heart toward the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnees to drive Dunmore’s force from the region. The forces met in October 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove the Indian followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met to determine peace terms. Logan refused to attend but did send a speech known as “Logan’s Lament.” Simon Girty, an Englishman that the American Indians had kidnapped and then raised as one of their own, may have read it at the conference. It became one of the most famous speeches by an American Indian in North American history, made famous by Thomas Jefferson. Logan died in 1780’s.
Over the past twenty eight years I have gotten back a few times to visit family. As time goes on, that frequency has been less and less. The last time was a year ago, taking my daughter to a riding camp and my son on a mini-vacation. That last time, I drove my kids to the old high school, but it was closed. Not much contact with teachers either. My favorite hasty teacher died a number of years ago. I did manage to reminisce with my high school Chemistry teacher at my dad’s funeral a few years ago. Actually I had to bring him up to speed in terms of members of the class, some whom were his neighbors during high school.
In an ironic twist of fate over the years, a good friend of mine from high school went to work with a friend of mine from college. I talked to both of them via e-mail and LinkedIn. I hadn’t seen my high school friend in years; the last time was his senior year in college. I went to visit my sister at Penn State and we met up. Too much drinking that night.
Over the years, I managed to return to two high school reunions. The first was after 5 years. It was easy to attend that reunion since I had graduated from college and was getting my masters degree about an hour from home. The last time was for my 35th high school reunion. The reunions after that were notionally 5 and 10 years apart. I don’t recall getting many notices about those events, between Graduate School and leaving for New Mexico, the distance and time a was transformed by living life, family and kids. There was the occasional “crossing of paths”, a wedding, notice of the loss of a friend, family, etc. Never really time to catch up and reminisce.
I tried to reminisce that Saturday evening, some 2000 miles away from home and the reunion. But I could not find my yearbook. I can explore the pictures and the pages of the book on Classmates.com, but without it, I don’t have many photos of that time period in my life. Between having moved over the years, living my teenage years in a broken home, often on my own. I participated in several extra curricular activities my junior and senior year, but that was somewhat curtailed with a job at the local KMart. Those were good times and I had a great group of friends. We all have drifted apart over the years. Aside from an occasional FaceBook post, I have lost contact with many of them over the years. Perhaps travel upon retirement will afford me the opportunities to reconnect. There is always the Christmas Card route.
I really wanted to return to my 40th because a number of my friend, through FaceBook, indicated that they were going to be ther. Sadly, work-related travel and travel for horse events has curtailed my ability to travel back east. To even get back east for a day requires a full day out and a full day back.
Friends posted group and individual photos on FaceBook so that was great to see how people had changed over the years visually. Maybe we will have a 45th year high school reunion hen most of us will be 63. Of course, there is also my college reunion with the classs of 1983, Graduate school doesn’t have much in the way of reunions.
I was able to look at the FaceBook photos posted. Everyone looked well and they looked like a good time was had by all. Wish I was there.