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Today is Sunday June 12, 2021

Happy Sunday to all of you out there. It is another beautiful but hot day in northern New Mexico. The sky is blue. The sun is out. Slight breeze but in the upper 80’s with very little humidity. Monsoon season should soon be upon us. We can use the moisture.

…currently in New Mexico

Our air quality is poor today because of the smoke from several forest fires raging in the southwest. Several fires within 75 miles of Los Alamos have consumed almost 2000 acres of largely in uninhabited areas in the state. Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer and other trees, some plagued by beetles and drought are contributing to the smoke. One fire that has erupted in the past 72 hours is burning in the Pecos Wilderness. One can see the smoke over the mountains above Santa Fe in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I hope that the forest service can contain it because I recall fondly hiking there with friends for about a week over 20 years ago. Other fires are burning in Arizona so the summer fire season is here and in full swing.

Closer to home, daughter is at a horse competition today. Her first since before the pandemic. She is slowly getting back into the saddle, so to speak. She is on a loaner horse for the competition, and is planning to take an exam in a few weeks to increase her ratings for competition. This is like

Daughter in a dressage practice ride on Ziggy. The direction of the photo is due north. The clouds in the upper left corner of the photo are actually smoke from the fire in the Pecos Wilderness.

the third time she has rode Ziggy this year. If she does well in the competition today, that should help improve her psyche for the ratings exam in a few weeks. She rode him years earlier when she spent some weeks working at Goose Down Farms. She is there for the competition today and hopefully this weekend will help her find the motivation to return to more frequent practicing and riding this summer. It is a real compliment to her natural skills in that she can get on just about any horse and can ride, practice and compete. She loves it and it keeps her out of trouble. I’m ok with that!

Son is spending the weekend on some computer gaming site where they are also having a competition. I don”t know the what, where, why or how. But if it keeps him happy and out of trouble, that’s ok with me as well.

Today I find myself pondering several things happening in the world that impact my little world in northern New Mexico. We find ourselves in a hay shortage. Probably the result of the drought that the southwest has experienced over the past few years. Rain and snow has been limited over the past few years, which is making the drought conditions worse. It is dry, and our normal hay deliveries from southern Colorado will not start up again until late July. So now that we find ourselves with two horses, we find our barn short in hay. So yesterday I spent hours driving around and was able to eventually purchase some hay from San Marcos Cafe and Feed on route 14 (south of Santa Fe), after several stops at other establishments. True capitalism in action as it looks like the farmers drive their trailers there and just unload on a first come-first serve basis. Cost a few dollars more, but what hasn’t increased in cost since before the pandemic. Everything is going up in price: gasoline, groceries, clothing, beer, ammo. You name it. Companies continue to charge more for less. My Oreo’s and Chips Ahoy cookies now come in smaller packs, all for the same price. My Flonase allergy spray costs the same $44.99 but now I get 40-less doses for that same price than last year. And it comes in the same bottle with the same packaging.

Of course, I in my Honda Pilot (no trailer) had them stuff six bails into the back. The way I figure it, several of these trips and we can build up extra while we wait for the normal deliveries to resume. We have been told to expect about 20% LESS this year from our normal supplier in Colorado and so alternative sources will be better in the long run.

Jasper and fresh hay from the back of my car.

Needless to say, daughter was able to swing by after the competition and purchase an additional seven bails. That should hopefully hold us over until July, but we will continue making these trips to get more over the summer as it appears many of the suppliers, local farms and feed stores are low on hay and other supplies in general.

But the general lack of being short in many commodities appears to be true across the economy as the country recovers from the pandemic. Food, semiconductors, gas, and blue jeans to name a few. I have been trying to upgrade my clothes, as many of my jeans have holes in them and may not suitable for work. Unfortunately, I have been trying to do this at the end of the pandemic, and further, restricting my choices to Made in the USA. There are a number of vendors out there, and their ability to manufacture is limited. And while I am bothered by having to wait weeks, or even months, I am sticking to the idea of only buying things that are Made in the USA. As a nation, we need to return to making everything here. It may cost a few dollars more, but it is the right thing. Maybe our larger companies will return manufacturing back to America and then the economic prosperity and engine that drives this country will allow it to return to greatness.

I have also been thinking about all of the upheaval of the pandemic and how things suddenly became short in supply. To that end, I am stocking up on food rations, medical and other supplies, ammo, and general things to get me and my family through the apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse as

Stockpiling for the zombie apocalypse.

my son refers to it, or the pending economic meltdown that I fear is coming.

For me, that means doing more to take care of myself. Eating better, healthier, eating less and exercising more. After all, I tell the kids that I plan on living forever.

If we have learned anything from the pandemic, our government can only do so much to protect us. Evil nations will stop at nothing to tear us apart. If anything, the pandemic should tell us that even though we are one planet, we are not one nation, or one people. Rugged individualism is necessary to protect our families. There are stupid people in this country will stop at nothing to bring us down. Some of them are even elected representatives in our government. They do not subscribe to the idea of rugged individualism and only believe that government can do it all. It cannot. That is also a lesson that the pandemic should have taught each and every one of us. Our government continues to spend money that our children’s children simply do not have. We alone cannot solve the world’s problems and we need to stop acting like we can. We need to reverse thinking like that and take care of our own people. And if we can return manufacturing to this country, it will improve our overall economic outlook and make things better for us and our children.

As for me, I spent part of the weekend out and about, trying to see if the new normal is the same as the old normal. We are not there, and it is unclear to me if we ever will be, or if our politicians will allow us to return to the old normal. I will continue to explore this over the summer and write about it in future postings of TheMcKeeSpot.

The author and his favorite horse Ruby.

So with that, I bid you all a happy and healthy Sunday. Make it a great week and hug your kids, your family and friends and your pets. Until next time…

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Memorial Day 2021

Today represents the end of May. For the kids, in person school has ended for the summer and now they get to recover from the stress of school, the stress from COVID, and lockdowns. A feeling of hopelessness is replaced with a return to normal? I have received the vaccine. My daughter has received the vaccine. My son has had his first shot and the second one will happen next week.

For the summer I expect that daughter will get outside and spend her time riding. Hopefully she will feel a return to normal when competitions resume but that is compounded by having to learn to ride on a new horse. But I also hope that she spends time with photography and art. Son is a wee bit more of a problem in that his love is video games. Hopefully I can get him interested in some other things. I am thinking maybe some computer programming, maybe robotics, or flying his drone.

For me this is my summer to ponder the future. I need to finalize a plan and execute that plan. Work is changing and none of it for the better. I feel that stress and can no longer handle it. So it is time for me to do something else. As I have been contemplating the next cycle of my life, what will keep me occupied? What will keep me thinking? What will keep me motivated? Learning? Expanding? Old hobbies? New hobbies?

I was glad to see somewhat a return to normalcy when the New Mexico Gambling establishments (aka casino’s) have reopened. That said, I see that I still possess bad luck when I entered one yesterday for the first time in over 14 months. My losing streak continues.

For me, work has been normal for months as I have been in the office daily. In the past several weeks, I have been out for coffee, been to a restaurant to eat, had beers at a brewery with a friend. So I guess things are returning to normal.

Saturday. Out for beer with a friend.

Saturday was great. It was beautiful outside. The sky was blue, the beer was cold. The conversation was great. Most relaxed that I have felt in a long time. Laughed many times, got stomped in 80’s music trivia and after a few beers, didn’t dance on the tables.

Sunday. A walk and waiting for a coworker for morning coffee.

But the scars are long and deep. This pandemic makes no sense. It is clear that it started elsewhere. It is clear that governments failed to act, behaved selfishly, let it spread without consequence. The current clowns in charge of our government have done more in four months than a virus could to destroy this country in fourteen.

So for me, Memorial day is not just “a long weekend”. This is my second post of this holiday, as I posted in 2019. I just looked at that post as I was finishing the edit of this post. The picture below is almost identical to my post from then.

While it is a time to remember those who served and gave their life in the ultimate sacrifice, so too must we remember the calamity of the last year. We must understand why. We must understand why so we do not have to experience it again. If this was sprung as a weapon, then the evil that created it must answer for the crimes that they unleashed on the world. If it was natural, that must also be understood so as to avoid the pain and death that was inflicted upon the nations of the planet in a future event.

Monday. A display of the flag. Remembering those who sacrificed for our country.

So it has been a few weeks since my last post. I need to work on spending more time posting here. To that end, I have cancelled my Facebook account. Nothing gets me more angry than the garbage the emanates from the left. It is a stress that is manipulated by the left-leaning Facebook clowns who control what we think, what we say, and ultimately what we feel. I have a right to agree, or to disagree and to communicate my position. That is no longer a position that can be tolerated by the big technology companies. So I will stay away from them. I will not allow them to earn money from what I read, what I write, what I post. I pay to write this, to maintain this blog. As readers, you can choose to read, to comment, to return for something new, or not return at all.

I hope that everyone has a great day and that they and their loved ones are safe, health and secure. Until next time.

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Today is Saturday April 24, 2021

Happy Saturday. I am up early for the weekend, up as if it was any other day and I was getting ready to go to work. In reviewing my personal e-mails today, I discovered the need to renewal my subscription to WordPress in order to maintain my domain and this blog. Then just like that, “ding”! My phone had a message from my credit card company indicating that the auto payment to renew my WordPress subscription and domain had been denied. Like magic. Modern technology, for all the good and the bad, is connected. Me and the world.

All this means is that it has been two years since I set up my plan and site. When I enrolled in April 2019 I had no idea where this experiment was going to take me. To explore this new found medium, I set up my domain as a business account. I guess that I was thinking that perhaps I would set up some type of business around TheMcKeeSpot domain. Something to keep me busy over the next 50 years. Maybe I would sell stuff and perhaps recover my investment.

To renew, or not to renew, that is the question…

I remember when my kids were younger. They talked about setting up their own YouTube channels and become overnight “gazillionaires”. Daughter would emphasize horses; son would be a video game superstar. I of course had more modest ideas for all. They are tech savvy. For me, it just goes over my head.

Oh to be young again and to dream…

Ruby and I had uneventful birthdays. My daughter tells me that Ruby is 15. Alas, I wish I was 15 but I will have to settle for 60. That makes me 4 in Ruby years…For her special day, Ruby enjoyed dehydrated kiwi fruit. Willow doesn’t like kiwi but was fine with dehydrated banana chips to help in the celebration. I had sea scallops from a local restaurant. I took off from work to allow for a four-day weekend of sorts. Nothing planned in terms of festivities for my self and the kids outside of dinner together the night of my birthday. They had homework.

I really didn’t do anything special for surviving another decade, or is it starting a new decade? Spent money. Reviewed all of the birthday wishes from friends old and new on Facebook. Went to Santa Fe and shopped at some stores. I was able to score on ammo for my guns. They are usually out but if they have it, you are limited in what you can purchase. Spent an hour perusing a bookstore. Bought a biography on Ulysses S. Grant. Should be a good read as I add it to the pile of four other books that I have in the queue. And to those of you who frequently visit TheMcKeeSpot, yes, I am still working on Atlas Shrugged. See my post from May 28, 2019 entitled “Reading is Fundamental” for the appropriate background. But at least I have gotten passed the pages where in my two previous attempts to read this book I gave up.

So, two years later, I have no business plan. I have not set up the site to sell anything. I have renewed the domain for another two years. Aside from the time that I spend writing, which hasn’t been much over the past two years, and a few hundred dollars to maintain the internet domain and infrastructure. Now I just need to write more often, to expand upon the subjects that I write about and see where it takes us.

Until next time, stay safe, feel free to read and comment.

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Today is Sunday April 18, 2021

OK, it has been a month since my last posting. It has been a very busy time for me since March 20th. I have been working long hours and not having much time for myself of late. Hopefully that may change but I am not very optimistic for the immediate future. Today it is cold and cloudy outside. Chance of snow in the forecast, but if yesterday is any clue as to today’s weather, the snow will be flurries and it will end and disappear quickly. Let’s hope that the change in weather will curtail my allergies, which have been very bad of late.

We could really use some moisture in the southwest, so any snow is welcome. The first couple of weeks of April have been warm and most of the snow pack on the mountains in New Mexico that surround Los Alamos has melted. Looking north towards the mountains into southern Colorado look better in terms of snow. We shall see what the rest of April and May will bring.

Since my last posting, we have experienced many days where the wind and heat have made the fire danger high. Warm weather this early does not bode well for the summer. I expect that it will be hot and dry, and camping in the forests will be curtailed. So much for hiking. Historically, this part of the southwest has experienced a major forest fire about every 10 years. Based on that statistic, we are overdue. In my 30 years hear, we have had two major fires that caused the town to evacuate. See my postings of May 13 and May 21, 2020 for additional information on the subject.

from the website https://www.wfas.net/images/firedanger/subsets/fdc_o_sw.png

I found the disclaimer on the site most interesting: Note:  Forecasts may not depict accurate fire danger between October and April. There are forest fires already burning in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma. The map above does misrepresent the state boundaries for Oklahoma and Texas.

The state of New Mexico continues to improve with declining COVID cases. With a couple of exceptions, this trend appears to be the same across the country. Many places are opening up. My kids have completed the second full week of learning in person at school. I have had my first and second shot of the vaccine. I think that the contact with people their own age has helped the kids begin to heal mentally, but it is clear that it will take a long time for them to recover from the lost time and lack of social contacts. I do not believe that the on-line learning has been all that beneficial.

from the NMDOH COVID-19 Public Dashboard.

Daily cases are down, testing is up, hospitalizations and deaths are down.

With a return to in class learning, I have been leaving work early to pick up the kids at the end of the school day. They do not want to ride the bus for reasons of social distancing, the possibility of COVID in a close and confined space, etc. So I have adjusted my work schedule accordingly. That means often starting early and working later. My work schedule is both on site and in the office as well as working from home.

I am OK with this schedule as I get to see them everyday. School ends in May so we need to see what we can plan for the summer. Daughter will hopefully return to riding, or at least daily practices with Willow. Son will be the bigger issue in terms of finding outside activities.

Morning feeding with Willow (near) and Ruby (far).

Ruby has been back to see the vet. According to the lameness locator there has been no improvement. So Ruby is officially retired from competition but can go on the occasional trail ride. Maybe daughter will let me take her for the occasional walk around the stables when I retire.

Next week I will have an anniversary of sorts. I will turn 60. My birthday falls on the same day as Ruby! No plans other than I will probably take the day off. Most days I believe that I do not feel 60, but on some days I do. Health wise I am OK based upon my last physical, except that I could loose a few more pounds. I have been working to do that since the start of the pandemic and fortunately I have not gained weight as many others. I have actually managed to drop about 30 pounds. I have another 25 to go.

The same goes with the dog (except losing 25 pounds) based on her last vet appointment. We both need to reduce eating junk food. No more McDonald’s french fries for either of us. For me, I have been cutting out soda, only drinking it on limited occasions. As I sit here, I am drinking my last Coke. My first in several months. Actually I find myself boycotting all Coke products since I heard their “woke” CEO complain about changes to election laws in Georgia. Read the damn bill people! It makes elections better and reduces the opportunities that others have been shown to exploit. I have the same opinion towards many other companies and their products. I find it just stupid that they have a problem. They make me show an ID showing them who I am when I use their products. Why is it such a problem for when we vote? Elections in America should be a vacation day and everybody should have to show up to vote. And yes there are certain situations where a person cannot be physically present. The pandemic was not one of them. I voted in person.

I do not support universal mail-in voting. I do not support voting from my cell phone.

I also noticed that Facebook was recently hacked but they never communicated it to their users. Thus far this year, I have received several notifications about accounts and institutions that have been hacked. One gets free account monitoring but nobody is held accountable or arrested or put in prison. I think it is time for the US to go on the offensive against these foreign nation-state cyber criminals and shut them down, blow them up, put them out of business. Until these criminals are stopped, I will continue to do business with cash, pay bills by check and in the mail, reduce setting up accounts for everything. And I guess that also means Life Lock and other insurance.

We have a few more weeks before our income taxes are due. Mine have already been filed and refunds have been received. Our national deficit continues to grow, inflation is surging with the stock market, and we have a crisis at the border.

Until next time, stay safe.

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Today is Saturday March 20, 2021

Today it managed to get into the middle 60’s. It was a beautiful spring day. Some wind but I think it is the first day of spring!. Some snow remaining on the mountains. Time is just flying by; with spring comes flowers, green grass and allergies.

WOW! I knew that it had been a few months since I last entered TheMcKeeSpot. But I did not think that it was at the end of December since my last post. Well I guess we have much to discuss. Where shall I begin…

Let’s start with the fact that I have been at Los Alamos for 30 years, 3 months and a few days. Wild. For my 30 years of service I got this very nice piece of Nambeware. I had previously wrote about this on my post of November 8, 2020, explaining the history of Nambeware.

My Nambeware for 30 years of service.

I have several pieces around the house. This is probably the largest piece that I own. Guess I can use it as a serving dish when I entertain those parties, Ha Ha Ha. Like the other pieces around the house, they just basically sit around and collect dust.

So on the horse front, Ruby is still with us but remains hobbled with her injury. So now we have Willow. Yes, we got a second horse. That had me remodeling the middle barn at the stables in the snow so that we could accommodate the second horse. Ruby was moved to the middle barn and the new paddock there.

From l to r: Ruby in her new paddock at the middle barn. Constructing the new stall at the middle barn. Welcome Willow.

Ruby was moved because when Willow arrived, she would not settle down. She just kept prancing back and forth. Moving her let her be closer to the front and she stopped pacing back and forth. They are both mares and it may take awhile for them to get along. Ruby is a quarter horse whereas Willow is a thoroughbred. They look alike in my opinion except Ruby has more brown color compared to Willow. Also, Willow stands several hands taller than Ruby.

The kids with Ruby and Willow (before swapping paddocks).

Still working at the lab. Of late it has been longer hours. Working longer but getting less accomplished. I really hate that but it appears to be the new normal, at least as far as work is concerned. Got a call from a former boss the other day inquiring if I would talk to a friend of his who works for a small company in Albuquerque, They are looking to hire people. I said that I would talk to them. Would I leave after 30 years? Unclear but the idea of something new is appealing but it would be tough as I could not move there because of the kids and everything. Still, the offer to return to doing actual Chemistry…we shall see.

COVID cases appear to be on the decline in New Mexico. Things are beginning to open up. Los Alamos County has been at the lowest level, turquoise now for a couple of weeks. Weekly cases continue to decline and things are almost back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of groups. Whether it will be a return to normal or something else is not clear. Vaccine’s appear to be slowly coming as well. Managed to get my first shot about a week ago. Sore arm for a few days. God bless President Trump and Operation Warp Speed to help mobilize the pharmaceutical industry and deliver 3 vaccines in months instead of years.

Kids are supposed to start school in person here in April. Odd that they will only be there for about 8, maybe 9 weeks then it will be summer. I think that it will be good for them to return to school and to be able to interact with friends and people their own ages. They have been locked up with little social interactions for over a year. Seems much longer than a year. Daughter will have much to do in terms of getting Willow ready for summer competitions. Not sure what son will do this summer but we need to find him something besides video games. Hoping to find him some computer-type activities like programming or such to let him see if that is interesting to him.

Tried to get sons drone that I got him for Christmas flying but one of the motors did not work. Could not open it up to repair it. Maybe I can send it to a repair place…or maybe I can buy him one that is not made in China. Emailed the company. NOTHING. Tried to recover my payment from the credit card company. NOTHING. I WILL NEVER BUY ANYTHING THAT IS ADVERTISED ON FACEBOOK AGAIN. NEVER EVER. Emailed them…silence. Must have been too busy fact checking some BS article. Also, I do not really like their new algorithms. Either many of my friends are no longer posting, or something else, I just do not know. Some of them I never see anything anymore. Perhaps they wised up and figured how much a waste of time it is.

Believe it or not but that just about catches you up on the ramblings for the past few months. No travel. Work and home, home and work. The occasional trip out to pick up food. That said, I did manage to go eat at a restaurant about 4 weeks ago. It was good just to get out of the house. Aside from my morning walks with Jewel, locked up in my office at work, or teleworking from home, I am very anxious to get out and do something. I have a birthday in about a month, so maybe I’ll get away for a few days, just to get away.

Well I will leave it here. Until next time…

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Today is Monday December 28, 2020

A little snow fell this morning. Nothing too significant other than covering the roads, trees, the car, sidewalks. It is cold and wet outside.

Happy Monday! It is that final week of 2020. The period between Christmas and New Years. As has been this period over the past 50-plus years (work, graduate school, college, etc), I have the week off. The lab is closed and I am home adjusting to a week without work, or not working from home this week. Unfortunately, travel is limited due to the pandemic. In general it is a weird week on the calendar, which has been discussed and commented on before. In searching the internet, I think this image best sums it up in my humble opinion…

Let’s face facts, the year 2020 just sucked. Here is hoping that 2021 is better. Plenty of memes out there talking about how bad this year was. Of course, many are spun off into signs, pictures, even t-shirts that you can purchase. Guess capitalism is alive and well. As long as you can make it, market it and such, someone may want to buy it.

In the spirit of the election…

Since my last post, I had identified many topics to write about. Not sure if we will cover all of them, but we do have several days until 2021. We can lament about the year later. We can critique my ramblings for the year much later.

Let’s start with McDonald’s, who brought back the McRib sandwich to help us through the end of this year. Why is the McRib so craveable? Start with seasoned boneless pork dipped in a tangy BBQ sauce, topped with slivered onions and dill pickles, all served on a toasted homestyle bun. When everything combines you have BBQ pork sandwich perfection. It’s only here for a limited time so don’t miss out. The previous words are straight from the McDonald’s website. I like how the adjectives just jump off the page. I can truly taste how delicious it is as I write about it here.

From the McDonald’s website announcing the return of the McRib for a limited time only.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the McRib sandwich. When it is out, I usually defer my Big Mac order, or my Quarter Pounder Deluxe order so I can have the McRib. Not my kids though, they have the usual, a Triple Cheeseburger with only ketchup. Do I see a trip for lunch in order?

Ah yes, which brings me to the kids and Christmas. Put the tree up a few weeks ago, stockings hung above the fireplace. A wreath on the door. I had great plans since I was to have them Christmas Eve, stay the night and here Christmas day. And in typical fashion, the best laid plans get ruined by the ex. The kids and I managed a couple hours on Christmas Eve. Had to rush the dinner and such. Take them back and then a few hours on Christmas Day. Still, it was good to have them, even if it was not what I had planned, or even less than what is required. They say that divorce is hard on the kids, yet I think it is harder on me. This too shall pass. I jump to my happy place and all is well.

Anyway, the kids came, we opened gifts, then we enjoyed our time together, playing with or working on the gifts received. Calling or texting with relatives and such. Truth be told I was never that much excited about Christmas since the late 70’s and my excitement wanes every year. Every year I think that I am becoming more like Mr Scrooge, or the Grinch. My preference is the Grinch because he at least has his dog Max to keep him company. It’s this time of year that I break out my Grinch coffee mug at work, giving the Dilbert mug a break. Clearly I am a curmudgeon as time passes on. Bah Humbug! That said, I have much to be thankful for this year. I probably have much to be thankful for every year. And I am thankful for my health and my children. That said, the kids and I did spend some time talking about those less fortunate and in need of help this time of year.

The week before Christmas was an anniversary of sorts for me. I have worked at Los Alamos for now 30 years. No fanfare, no parades, nothing of congrats from my bosses. I did get a few e-mails from former employees whom I had the opportunity to manage over the years. That was personally rewarding and brought a smile. I do not know why I expected more. I did, and was disappointed when there was nothing. Certainly gives me something to write about when I respond to my performance appraisal, as well as my performance goals for the next year.

I guess the big questions for me is whether I will have “a next year”. After all, after 30 years, I am 59 and a half (slightly more), and wonder about retirement. I wonder about it just about every day. This blog was my attempt to explore what the next 50 years has in store for me. I honestly do not know about tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the next several decades. Some coworkers say I cannot retire because I have kids who have several years of high school before they venture off to college. I expect the economy to crater soon and thus that will cause problems with savings for retirement. Too many bills to pay, too much to do. Have you even decided what you will do in retirement?

In the last post I commented that I took the car in for repairs. Well the car is fixed and now, it will not start. Thought it was a dead battery so I replaced the batter. Now it still will not star. Probably the starter motor so I have some more car repairs in the future. The car is about 18 years old and has over 189,000 miles. Yet when it runs, I still get the same gas mileage. Over the 18 years, I have put about $10,000 in repairs into it. The kids and I have many fond memories in that car so I cannot see replacing it anytime soon.

Looking outside, I can still see some snow flakes falling onto the ground. Nothing too dramatic except the forecast was for snow tomorrow. High today is in the upper 40’s, but wind will put the wind chill into the upper 30’s. But as I write this post, and words jump off this page and cause me to search the internet, I come across a meme that can sum up today’s post:

Have a good week.

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Today is Sunday December 13, 2020.

It has been two weeks since my last post. If I took a picture from my back deck, it would look remarkably identical to the picture from my post of two weeks ago. Yes we had more snow Saturday night. It is cold outside, but the sun is out. A true representation of life under the pandemic: it is stagnate.

I find myself having a quiet weekend home alone. Yesterday was the first day that I ventured out in a few months. I actually drove to Santa Fe to get some shavings for the horse. Ruby is doing well but it is cold outside. I think the last time I was in Santa Fe was when I had to take one of the kids for a dental appointment, which was back in May or June, I think. I need to get out and do something different. Even the brief trip out of the house for several hours was beneficial.

Also ventured out to get the car repaired. Found a great mechanic in Los Alamos. It was great to get an oil change where they actually put oil in the car. It was great to fix the breaks and suspension by actually putting break pads on the car and aligning the tires. I have been spending more time shopping locally, trying to keep the local small businesses IN BUSINESS.

The pandemic numbers are up again, with much of the country in dire lock downs. Los Alamos County has 206 confirmed cases, up from yesterday but I believe we are still in the RED relative to testing and population. Somehow I think we are on day 256 to slow the spread.

I have spent the past two weeks working from home again because work has seen an increase. Two teams on the project had contact with a presumed positive COVID case early last week and were sent home for quarantine. Fourteen days. It means that the project will start Christmas break with accomplishing very little as far as the project is concerned. Many of the projects are in a similar situation for the start of the fiscal year. Little progress and a bad start to a year where much has to be accomplished.

I continue to despise working from home. I should not. Rather I should consider myself fortunate to be employed and have a regular salary coming in during this pandemic. My progress in getting things done is very limited and things just continue to pile up in terms of what has to be done. It continues to add to my funk and frustration. Yet I felt that long before the pandemic. It has only exacerbated it!

I think the same could be said about the kids, who will have their last week of on-line school this week. Finals and an end to the semester that has seen nothing but lots of homework. Son has done well. Daughter not so much. The homework just keeps being pilled up on her to the point that she just doesn’t do it, or does it so as to just get a passing grade. I think that it is because she doesn’t have her usual outlet (riding Ruby) whereas he stays inside and plays video games. Not sure if they have learned anything. A whole school year down the drain. I can see the toll that not seeing their friends and in classroom learning has taken on them. While the virus has taken away many lives, it has also taken away much in terms of the soul of individuals. It will take years, if it is possible, for people who have lost, to recover.

Looking at the weekend press, I see that the current President still believes that the elections was stolen, that the Democrats are now working to rig the election in Georgia for the two open Senate seats, and that United Airlines did not let a two-year old and her family fly because the kid would not wear a mask. Penn State played a good football game, but the Ohio State-Michigan game was cancelled due to COVID. I find much of the press anymore little about telling the news. It is more about the opinion of the newscaster. Liberal, left-leaning, not consistent with my values. Very little journalism, digging into the truth. Now that it appears that Trump has not been re-elected, the fake press think that it is OK to return to trying to be fair and impartial. I actually think that they ran several stories about the Biden family and their dealing with foreign governments, tax evasion, and cashing in. From my point of view, the damage is already done. They defeated Trump and now think that all can be forgiven. I will no longer connect or read the mainstream media. I am currently deciding whether to cancel my subscription to the Wall Street Journal and save myself about $500. I find that I get much enjoyment reading the articles on Zerohedge and a few other on-line sites. I see that Zerohedge is starting an ad-free premium subscription because they were blackmailed by Google to control comments. The 1st amendment and Freedom of Speech are so under attack in this country. The cost is a dollar a day so I might have to check it out since there was a suggestion that it might focus more on financial information. I can purchase this, save money cancelling the Wall Street Journal, and feel good about someone standing up to the monopoly that is Google! At any rate, Zerohedge is so much better than the Business Insider.

Looks like Biden will start on January 20 with Obama 2.0 or the third inning, third quarter, or whatever sports analogy you want to consider. Obama 1.0 was bad enough and I am sure that the sequel will such even more. The predictions for 2021 are for the bulls to continue to run the stock market. I do not understand how this can be. I guess that I should be happy as I contemplate retirement. But businesses are going bankrupt, millions are unemployed, millions could be thrown out of their homes come January because of not being able to afford their mortgage payments for months. Our Congress continues to play games in terms of relief for the citizens. Biden’s plans for government will not help us, they will only make things worse. I will lose freedoms, I will pay more in taxes. I will see a future that is not better for my children. It will be worse.

In my post of May 17, 2020 entitled “America, Elections, FaceBook”, I found myself writing about being banned from the FaceBook for 30 days because I posted something that went against their community standards. Well reader, I find myself again banned for another post that went against their community standards. Another 30 days. It has been a great 30 days as I have diverted my attention to the site Parler. It’s not as sophisticated as FaceBook, it lacks the liberal bend in the news, the advertising is limited in that your Amazon searches or your Google searches don’t end up as feeds in your feed. I was glad to see this week that the FTC and 47 state attorney general’s sued FaceBook for its monopolistic business practices. I hope it is broken up. I hope that Google is broken up.

On February 13, 2020 I wrote about “The Tree of Liberty” and the Jefferson quote. As I sit here and continue to write today’s post, I am sipping on some Jefferson bourbon. So here’s is to all of you as Christmas will soon be upon us, peace on earth, good will towards all. The year 2021 will soon be upon us and I hope that it is better than the past year. Sadly, I am not an optimist but we will write about all of this in future ramblings of TheMcKeeSpot. Mr Spock would say “live long and prosper”. I will just bid you goodbye until next time.

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Today is Sunday November 29, 2020.

I find myself up before 4 am today. Typical of my sleep habits of late; seldom do I get more than four hours of sleep.

It has been a very lazy several days over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Outside it is cold and we even managed about one inch of snow.

Snow from the night before…

The state of New Mexico is supposed to come out of another two week COVID19 lockdown tomorrow. Over the past few days, the state has announced that it will shift to a three-tiered system in which it will impose COVID19 restrictions in each county based on its level of outbreak rather than curtailing activities statewide to slow the virus’s spread.

The new system will enable local communities to ease restrictions after public health data shows an outbreak is waning within their borders. The restrictions will be based on three colors: red will denote the highest risk of spread to yellow with green being the least restrictive. Not a return to normal as restrictions will still apply. As of today I think all counties are red with the exception of Los Alamos county.

The good news is that even a red coding is less restrictive than the current lockdown. Of the businesses that remain, they will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity as the holiday shopping season gets underway, whereas now they only can offer delivery and curbside pickup.

I don’t really understand the increase in numbers. Everywhere I turn, I see people in masks and practicing safe distancing. Maybe I am just being foolish in believing that people are remaining vigilant. For example, I know that when I take the dog for a walk on the streets, I do not wear a mask. But then again, there is nobody around me. I carry one in case but usually there is no one around when I am out walking my dog.

At the lab, COVID19 infections are also up. Again management is directing us to maximize teleworking. So, for next week I will find myself working from home, with only 5 hours onsite authorized. I expect that things will continue to be restricted for the remainder of this calendar year.

In general, I have found my productivity to decrease significantly. From bad computer connections to the ease in raiding the refrigerator, I have not enjoyed work from home. There needs to be a separation between the two. Otherwise, the lines get blurred and the whole stress of work stays with you. There is no time to relax and recharge the batteries. Many say that it is the future. Sadly, it is just another evolutionary decline in America. Because if we are able to work from home, that means that close to 170 million of us are not really creating things. We just keep moving the paper along.

While I am thankful to be employed, I can imagine how bad things are for those who are not.

I see the terrible effect that this has had on the kids. Unable to go to school and see their friends. Having to get school online offers limited socialization, the ability to have conversations with people of their own age or interests. It is clear in the few times that I have watched the whole teleschool effort from across the room that the solution being applied is more homework, less instruction.

So I had the kids for Thanksgiving dinner and they stayed until Friday afternoon. Thus, I got to practice the only Chemistry that I can do anymore, and that is cooking. As usual I prepared a turkey (herb seasoning, butter, onion and bell pepper and sausage filled the inside of the bird) with mashed potatoes, stuffing, glazed carrots, rolls, cranberry sauce and apple pie for desert. For some reason, we were not in the mood for pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving 2020.

As usual, I opened a bottle of red wine for my Thanksgiving meal. The kids had soda.

Son and I played video games and a few hands of GO FISH. Daughter was in a vegetative state in her room, watching videos and doing some art work. They both keep in touch with friends by texting. Even I keep tabs on daughter, not by going up the stairs to her room, but by texting or FaceTime. Technology has embellished our ability to be lazy. Black Friday was not spent in the store. It was in front of the computer. What to get the kids for the holiday coming up?

We had to venture out a couple of times to feed Ruby. A welcome respite from house arrest. Beyond that, I think we all just took it easy and did those things that keep us sane. Burned out by the COVID19 changes in our daily lives, we need a return to normal.

As I write this, Christmas is just 27 days away…

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Today is Sunday November 15.

Another sunny but lazy Sunday afternoon from Los Alamos, New Mexico. I spend most of my Sunday’s resting on the sofa, reading or cleaning up around the house. If the kids are here I find myself trying to entertain them, help with their homework. Then there are two trips to the stables to feed Ruby. But not this weekend. No kids. No Ruby. Sadly, Ruby is back at the vet after having survived another bout of colic.

The past few weeks have been rather hard on Ruby. Two bouts of colic (one before and one after the most recent snow), and a separate incident in the middle of our recent snowstorm recovering from stepping on a nail in her hoof. Coupled with the general summer of being injured and out of competition, the lack of eventing due to COVID, she has not had a strenuous workout since July. That has certainly taken a toll on my daughter because it was exercise and a distraction for her that she enjoyed and was good at it.

Colic is defined as any abdominal pain although horse owners typically refer to colic as problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Common causes of colic in horses include issues with diet, stress, changes in weather, sand digestion (caused by eating off the ground), or inadequate exercise, to name a few.

Ruby and daughter early November treating her for stepping on a nail.

Her summer injury is due to arthritis and it has it’s own set of issues and complications. More to come in a future post I am sure. As for her condition at the moment, we expect that she will be home from the vet this Tuesday. I will be glad to see her.

As I said above, Sunday is also the day that I try to read. In general I try to up on things that are of interest to me. Books, news articles, internet web sites, even magazines. And that is what I have been doing for the past few hours before I started to write this post. As I had much to catch up on this week, between the election, and the happenings in the news, I can expect that I will probably ramble about all of that as I write this post.

As always, I find myself here on the sofa with my companion, Jewel. The picture below is how I started this post several hours ago. Several starts and stops to let her out, get her water, her desire to be a lap dog when she knows that she cannot be a lap dog.

Jewel this Sunday, November 15.

I have the computer set up so that the TV is the monitor. This makes it great for downloading movies from internet sources, playing DVDs, or working on the computer itself. The large screen makes it easy to see what I am writing.

Here in New Mexico, the Governor has started another two week lock down of all things nonessential. Schools were trying to resume but now are retreating back to learning from home and on-line. I have concluded that there is no learning, there is only lots and lots of homework.

The other day I had to help son make a catapult. It was an assignment for his Makers Space class. After we fabricated it, we then had to shoot 10 different projectiles and record the distance. As a twist, I had him weigh the items, which comprised of 6 different rubber and plastic balls and then a penny, nickel, dime and a quarter.

Catapult project.

He started with a few ideas from the internet as to how to construct the catapult. That had us run to the local hardware store for the supplies. For safety purposes, I used the table saw while son supervised fabrication of the catapult. It was actually a fun afternoon and diversion. For me, the diversion was from work. For him, the diversion was from video games and the opportunity to get his homework completed.

Anyway, the kids will continue on-line school and I will continue to work from home more days than I care to. The two week imposed lock down starts tomorrow, November 16 and is to last for two weeks, although it may be extended. We have seen a spike in cases since mid-September and are currently seeing over 1000 cases daily. This increase is causing strains on hospitals and other medical resources.

We have seen a similar uptick in cases at work. Recently over 500 people had to quarantine associated with contact tracing. A confirmed COVID-positive resulted from an individual who attended a Halloween party. There is also concern being raised because of the upcoming family celebrations associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The experts suggest that the increase in COVID is the result of changing weather, which is resulting in more indoor activities due to the cold weather that is approaching. I think some of it is COVID fatigue. For the first time in over 7 months, I actually went out and had a beer. Although I must point out that I sat away from people and I was outside. It was good, albeit brief, to do something different for a change. I think the coworker who joined me also had a good time. Certainly was a stress reducer. Hopefully a vaccine will soon be available because our society cannot continue this way. People are suffering. People are hurting. I know that I need a change of pace.

Anyway, I was trying to spend today reading up on this latest phrase that I have seen in the news, daily readings on the internet, etc. Called the great reset, it sounds like some people want to use the pandemic to push through their own political agenda. My reading takes me immediately to the source, the world economic forum ( https://www.weforum.org/great-reset/ ). I immediately conclude that it comes from those who have different set of beliefs and agendas than I. To me, it is liberal. It is a mindset that is not to my liking, not consistent with my upbringing and beliefs. But I need to research it further and keep an open mind. A quick scan of the website causes me to venture across the subject of the 4th Industrial Revolution. I presume that this revolution covers the technological advances in computing and artificial intelligence to biotechnology and nanotechnology. I read that these technologies come with a potential to help us solve some of our most pressing global challenges. Somehow I recall reading about “The Third Wave” a number of years ago, and wonder if this too was another revolution where different technological advances shape our lives, the environment, how the world around us is interconnected and how we are to advance as a society.

Of late, I find my interests in reading are often derived from history to political science to economics. I visualize it as an interesting Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets. These diagrams depict elements as points in the plane, and sets as regions inside closed curves. I view this Venn diagram as having a cause and affect relationship where the size of the circles and the overlap changes as time marches forward, as technology advances. The sum total of the Venn diagram is what I believe describes the total human condition.

A Venn diagram of what I would suggest shows the overlap of history, political science and economics.
A competing Venn diagram for one to ponder.

At any rate, lots to ponder with today’s ramblings. One thing that I have noticed is that I need to work on the format of my blog in order to make it more appealing to the reader. After all, this is an experiment of sorts for me as I ponder the next 50 plus years in terms of the direction of my life. Add that to my research over the next few months.

Much to research and read up on in order to figure out where they take me, or where I am heading. Until next time…

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Today is Sunday November 8.

Lazy weekend here in the McKee house. It is my weekend with the kids. Neither one wants to talk about their on-line homework. Son finally had a play date…only four hour’s straight of video games, two medium pizza’s and several soda’s. Daughter has a riding lesson this afternoon and is sequestered in her room doing art and stuff. As for me, I think about work, spend some time reading and cleaning up around the house.

Outside it is cold and windy. Rain last night with snow and cold weather in the forecast for the week. Haven’t spent much time on the computer since the election. Still collecting my thoughts and have read some stories about where things are heading. Not surprised by either outcome. That said, I am not happy with the outcome either.

In 40 days I will eclipse another milestone. I will have worked at Los Alamos for 30 years. Even I cannot believe it. So I will get some Nambeware, lunch with the lab director (not sure how that will work under COVID restrictions), and then the hard decisions: How much longer do I want to work?

Nambeware example of Butterfly bowls.

Nambe is an eight-metal alloy whose major component is aluminum. It was created at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1940s and is exclusively produced by the Nambe Mills, Inc., which was founded in 1951 near Nambe Pueblo, some 10 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Nambe was made by a small group of Santa Fe craftsmen using sand molds. A bowl or platter is broken away from its mold and shaped and polished to a silvery luster that, with age, acquires a patina all its own. Because each sand mold is used only once, no two pieces are exactly alike.

Was is the key word because like just about everything else, it is no longer manufactured in the USA. So where are those distinctive, silverlike dishes and housewares made from a special alloy and named for an Indian pueblo north of Santa Fe being cast now? “In India and China”, said Nambe President Bob Varakian. “To our exact specifications and quality.” Nambe’s Santa Fe foundry, off Siler Road, is not operating, although it’s possible the plant will reopen, Varakian said. That was reported in 2009 in the Albuquerque Journal. The overseas casting started “probably a year ago,” Varakian said.

The company was sold in 2019 to a British manufacturer and worldwide distributor for $12 million. The headquarters is in Santa Fe, distribution and polishing operations still exist in Española, but none of it’s products are made in either New Mexico or even the United States. Nambe is now considered a design company. The company’s crystal comes from Europe, and wood pieces and dinnerware from Thailand, flatware, currently produced in China, and castings from India and China.

In order to turn this country around, we need to do more than design (think of Apple), finance (Goldman or JP Morgan), and retail (Amazon or Walmart). We need to make things. Very little is made in this country, and that is another lesson that we must learn from the pandemic. In America, we assemble automobiles from parts manufactured elsewhere. In America, we develop new drugs, but most of the manufacturing is outside the country. To make things, we need to use automation and computers. This will rebuild the middle class, create well paying jobs, improve education.

We lead in science and discovery but we somehow cannot take those achievements and capitalize on them. It is much easier to license the work and collect a fee. And while that is OK for the short term, it is destructive for the long term. There is much science to explore, much work to do to help America rebuild and restore the country, independent of the election.

Arial view of the Standard Steel factory in 2011.

In my birthplace of Lewistown, Pennsylvania the local steel mill still exists. Standard Steel has been in existence since 1795, one of the longest continuously operating forging operations in the United States. The company’s history throughout the 20th century was punctuated by several milestones. In 1904 it produced the first solid forged and rolled wheel in the United States. By 1939, Standard Steel was making one-fifth of all the locomotive tires in the United States. During World War I, commercial operations modified to include artillery shells and howitzer forgings. Then, when World War II arrived, the factory was retooled to include the production of gun barrels, tank castings and military forgings. Annual steelmaking capacity was 160,000 tons.

But around the time that Standard Steel celebrated its 200th anniversary, the steel industry in the United States was under assault from both foreign imports and from a general decline in manufacturing here. In 2001, the company, which had been calling itself Freedom Forge again for about two decades, filed for voluntary protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize, although it continued to operate during the bankruptcy process. The firm also made some very difficult choices, one being to focus solely on its core railroad business. In 2003, the company slashed its payroll when it exited the product line at the plant that produced steel rings for jet engines, power plants, mining and oil exploration.

Their singular product today is wheels and axles for railroads around the world. That’s what they made when I lived there in the 60’s and 70’s, where members of my family worked, and they still do this today.

From http://www.standardsteel.com/history.php

Currently owned by a Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese Company, Standard Steel is a leading manufacturer of forged steel wheels and axles for freight rail cars, locomotives and passenger rail cars. It is the only producer of forged steel wheels for rail cars and locomotives in North America. Much of their steel comes from recycling.

Well that about sums up the thoughts for today. Hope you liked today’s post as it offers some though about where I may go with some future posts.