Categories
ramblings of a madman

Happy Sunday January 9, 2022

It’s Sunday morning, after the first full week in which I returned to work from the the Christmas/New Years vacation. Jewel and I are spending a quiet day here at the house. Relaxing, drinking coffee. Well at least I am drinking coffee; Jewel is sitting next to me on the sofa.

It has been weeks since I last enjoyed my Sunday morning coffee cabal with my coworker. My friend left before Christmas to go to his house on Sanibel Island and now finds himself trying to return today. He is caught up in the COVID induced travel cancellations that have been pretty significant around the Christmas/New Years travel period.

COVID is significantly on the upswing in the US, with over a million new cases reported each day over the past week. The increase certainly keeps me from going out unless I need to. In Los Alamos county, COVID cases are up. Ditto at work, where we were reminded to resort to video meetings and to work at home if possible. Earlier in the week I received e-mail from both the middle school and the high school, indicating multiple students with positive tests and others identified for possible testing and quarantine by contact tracing. Important information since both schools have some importance to me in that both of my children are enrolled in each. So far, I am glad that they are continuing to push in class teaching. Both my son and daughter (and I) hated the on line stuff, and it is clear that they suffered from the video instruction. Overall, the pandemic has taken much from kids growing up over the past few years.

For some COVID cases, I understand that people have been vaccinated and still catch the virus. For others, this is a repeat infection. Either way, the virus is still with us, and will probably be around for ever. It will mutate and it will infect all of us at some point. Two points emerge from this, the 670-plus days into the pandemic. The first is that I, like many, are just fed up with the virus and how our government has handled it. Early on, it was shut down everything. It was the need for testing. Today, we still find ourselves short on testing. Shutting down the economy, not so much probably because the 15 days to slow the spread just didn’t do it. Government and employers still push masks and while I wear mine as so directed, I have to conclude that it only offers marginal protection. And while treatments exist, they are difficult to obtain, others are just now coming on-line, and others have may have been altogether discredited by the mainstream. The second is that while the vaccines offer some degree of protection, they do not make us immune. I expect as the virus mutates, it will be like the common cold or the flu and that we will be living with it for a very long time. But don’t take this as medical advice. It is just my opinion.

Today, much of the news is less about reporting events. It is more about reporting the opinion of events. I think objectivity has been lost in the modern age because of how quickly information travels and gets reported. Events can be seen real time. Stories are written and reported across multiple outlets, and the flaws, misinformation, lies, all can be shared without any evidence of truth or facts to back it up. The same story can show up in five, ten, or more newspapers, websites, twitter feeds, etc. Objectivity is now replaced with opinion.

The dictionary defines opinion as a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something : what someone thinks about a particular thing. Newspapers now have opinion sections, where experts tell the story based on their beliefs, judgement, or way of thinking. Even what I write her is my opinion, based on my thinking, beliefs, education, background, experience. Included in that is political thinking and ideology. It is important to understand as much about the person who conveys the story as part of how one understands and interprets the story itself. This is the objectivity that people need today to understand what is going on around them.

Kevin M. Lerner recently wrote an article on the online website The Conversation in June 2020 about “Journalists believe news and opinion are separate, but readers can’t tell the difference”. Lerner is Assistant Professor

https://theconversation.com/journalists-believe-news-and-opinion-are-separate-but-readers-cant-tell-the-difference-140901

of Journalism at Marist College and edits the Journal of Magazine Media. His research focuses on the intellectual history of journalism through press criticism, satire, and magazines. The basic premise of the article is that the newspapers of today have sections that report news, and tell opinion. But is difficult for today’s reader to tell the difference.

The title of today’s post is “Happy Sunday…” It is my opinion that this Sunday is a happy day. I got a good nights sleep. I awoke in a good mood. I am not angry at my surroundings for the moment. But that could change as the day goes on.

There, I just gave you my opinion of his article. But we see it in the newspaper, on TV. Whether it is the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, or CNN versus FOX News. It is everywhere. Now more than ever, objectivity is needed as the world becomes a more troubling place. Russia looks poised to invade the Ukraine. China looks like it will use force to take over Taiwan. The Middle East continues to be in constant turmoil. And in the USA, the media continues to push the January 6 coup. The left hijacks the story line as an attempt to overthrow the government while the right pushes it as political protest.

We could write more about all of these political situations but I will save that for another time. Several things are still clear. It is Sunday. I am still happy. But I need more coffee. Until next time, be safe, enjoy reading TheMcKeeSpot and come back often. Drop a note if you like or dislike what you see here. I enjoy reading new things and conversing with new people.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

…out on the town.

Last night, and again this morning, I managed to get away for a few hours from sitting around the house. No vegging out on TV. No reading. No cooking, cleaning, or eating. I met up with a coworker and we went out for some food and drink. Now if you are familiar with Los Alamos, you quickly understand that there isn’t much in the way of choices, especially on the weekends.

My coworker, who is wrapping up about 30 years at Los Alamos, is moving. His plan is to vacate his place of residence, move back east for the holidays and when the new year starts, spend some time on a change of station with the DOE (Department of Energy) in Washington DC.

The downside, from my perspective, is that I will be missing a coworker who was part of my coffee cabal. No more conversation about work, bad managers, great coffee, discussions about science, economics, or whatever.

My task to get a life will become more and more…however you want to describe it.

We had planned to both retire this year, and now he is off for a few more years in the land of make believe. And I will be here, soon starting on my 32 year in the Land of Enchantment.

So the afternoon’s festivities started by walking to a local drinking establishment. We chose Boese Brothers Brewpub, which was only a half mile walk from our perspective abodes. I have been to this establishment several times, especially in the summer months, as they set tables outside in the grass and on the sidewalk. Usually go there with another coworker, but I can save those stories for another day.

Screenshot 2021-12-12 at 12-16-28 Boese Bros Brewpub – Los Alamos

There were a couple of basketball games on the TV screen’s when we entered. Largely empty but there were about a half a dozen people there when we arrived. It was too cold to sit outside so we grabbed a table and ordered the Double Dead Red, an advertised red ale at about 8% alcohol. Not too hoppy but tasty. As we were conversing, and our waitress was wondering whether we would have food with our libations, she mention about a new establishment right next door, which served cocktails. Neither one of us was aware of it and thought we would check it out. As the dinner hour progressed, we each consumed two of those, along with a sandwich the had chicken, green chili and other fixings. My friend had the panini and I had the club. After about 2 hours of food and drink, it started to fill up and we were ready for more adventure.

With that, we moved on to the next establishment for cocktails. Upon entering the place, we spied several coworkers who had gathered for somebody’s birthday. We didn’t join them but certainly noticed that the place wasn’t very full. This place, right next door, opened about a month ago in Los Alamos. Called the Long Pour, it is a cocktail bar that serves drinks made from vodka, agave spirit, gin and bourbon that are being crafted at the Boese Brothers’ distillery in Albuquerque. I had mentioned to my friend that I thought that would be an excellent side-gig after retirement, one which I could put chemistry to practice.

Had we bothered to read the local on-line news paper, we would have learned that the establishment has been open for about a month…

The Boese Brothers now have opened several establishments in the state, as I was able to explore as I wrote this post. One can find more about their efforts here:

https://nmdarksidebrewcrew.com/2021/05/24/boese-brothers-takes-advantage-of-slower-times-to-add-something-new-to-its-menu/

Obviously the next time I venture off to Santa Fe, I will have to check out Desert Dogs.

So after another couple of hours and more libations, we vowed to return and managed to walk home after venturing out on the town. Parted company and agreed to meet up the next day for Sunday coffee.

While I mentioned that my friend was moving, I failed to mention that he provided me with some books from his vast collection that he is downsizing as he contemplates his move.

Some classic works of literature now added to my collection. Great reading for the throne.

I am pretty sure that the “dear Asshole” will be very worthwhile as I contemplate work over the next few months.

As Sunday morning came along, I found myself out and about, walking to the coffee establishment in town, as I have come to do on many weekends where I do not have the kids. Of course, it is getting cold, snow in the higher elevations, and the local celebrities were out and about…

The two geese who call the pond home…Homer and Edna.

I introduced TheMcKeeSpot Readers to Homer and Edna in a previous posting (August 8, 2021). Water was cold, some ice in spots, but there they were, just floating(?) in the water at Ashley Pond. I passed them on my way to Starbucks. There I had some coffee, Pikes Place I think, and my friend showed up for more conversation. As it was over coffee, the topic often focused on work.

Out of the house, exercise walking about town. Food and libations. All in the span of a single weekend. Some of my readers might think that I was getting a social life outside of kids and horses. Well let’s see what tomorrow brings. Until next time…

Categories
ramblings of a madman

There are less than 20 shopping days left until Christmas…

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. It was about Thanksgiving, written a few days after Thanksgiving. On a positive not, I have either eaten, frozen, or otherwise discarded the Thanksgiving leftovers. After awhile, even turkey no longer enjoyable be enjoyable day-in and day-out.

And I just remembered that there are only 19 shopping days until Christmas. Only 19! Where has the year gone? I have completed my Christmas shopping, yet my son still comes up with new things that he “absolutely must have”. I am to the point where I simply say that “I’ll text Santa and maybe the reindeer can work through all of the supply chain issues.”

The Los Alamos Rock and Gem show was this past weekend. Son and I try go every year. That is where he typically gets his Christmas gift for his mom and his sister, mission accomplished. That said, neither one has given me the list of ideas for their mother. It is going to be a very strange Christmas.

And this is on top of a very strange year where we still have not returned to normal, COVID is still an issue, and people are just getting tired of it all. I see it with my friends. I see it with my coworkers. I see it when I am out and about. It has been a significant strain on my kids and school.

Another family tradition is that I find time to work on the annual family calendar. Well, I can say that it is done, ordered, and already here to be wrapped and sent out as Christmas gifts for the immediate family. It turned out rather well. The best thing about it is that some of my blog photos also made it into the calendar. And that happened without even trying. Also splurged and got some other special photo reminders for the kids. Now we actually have things for the stockings.

Just a few final things…when will we put up the Christmas Tree? Will it snow this year? What will I get Jewel? Do I have to get special treats for the horses?

Wait a minute Ruby, I need to get this text message to Santa about what I want for Christmas.

An anniversary of sorts is coming up soon. Later this month, and before Christmas, I will have eclipsed 31 years working at Los Alamos. Last year, I thought 30 was going to be my last. Somehow, I toughed out another year. But I can certainly feel that the time and work is draining my soul, my desire, my engagement. The enjoyment is no longer there.

Work sucks. Management sucks. Life sucks. It is clearly time for a change!

Of late, I have found that I am spending too much time at work and think that I have come to the end of the line. Many individuals talk about the split between work and home. I dream about it but very seldom do I get to experience it. I find it very disheartening that, after 30 year, I am still putting in long hours.

Don’t get me wrong, but I will certainly do what it is necessary to complete a task that I am assigned to, or agreed to have complete by such-and-such-date. But when I am to rush to complete task 23 when the individuals ahead of me failed to complete their tasks when promised, expected, or communicated…I am reminded of that old statement where

For too long, it seems that my energy and dedication has gotten me over these rough patches. But now work has gotten the best of me. I crave for a home life separate from the work life. And now, in the twilight of my remaining work time, I want it even more. NO I demand it. I am at a time in my life where I have experienced too much work. There simply is not enough people to do everything that is asked, required, or demanded. And so the piling on has to end. Program people will have to understand that unless they get more resources, it will just take longer to get tasks completed. And if it will take longer, it will cost more.

On that note, I will end it here. Until next time…and if I am not able to post before Christmas (or New Years), let me wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

Happy Halloween and other Eerie Events

As I was devouring my Sunday breakfast, I was time to search the internet and read up on some interesting articles of the day. All of this as I was preparing to write another post to TheMcKeeSpot blog. I was planning to write about the happenings since my last post, reflect upon October coming to an end and it’s now November. Christmas is right around the corner and I will have eclipsed another year at the Lab.

Then, among the articles in my news feed, I cam across a very interesting article. Entitled “The Five Universal Laws of Human Stupidity. We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril”. Written by Corinne Purtill, the article that I read can be found at

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-five-universal-laws-of-human-stupidity?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Upon reading the article, I had to search the underlying premise behind an article on human stupidity. BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed the article.

The premise was created in 1976 by an economics professor at the University of California, Berkley. Personally, the work of Carlo M. Cipolla may be the best work that I have read published from UC Berkley (in my opinion), a school known for it’s socialist agenda (in my opinion).

Another article on the work of Cipolla can be found at another magazine, The Guardian, known for writing some interesting articles.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/09/improbable-research-human-stupidity

The best takeaway from the articles, because Cipolla was an economist is that

Countries moving uphill have an inevitable percentage of stupid people, yes. But they enjoy “an unusually high fraction of intelligent people” who collectively overcompensate for the dumbos.

Declining nations have, instead, an “alarming proliferation” of non-stupid people whose behaviour “inevitably strengthens the destructive power” of their persistently stupid fellow citizens. There are two distinct, unhelpful groups: “bandits” who take positions of power which they use for their own gain; and people out of power who sigh through life as if they are helpless.

Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of Improbable Research, as quoted from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/09/improbable-research-human-stupidity.

Those two paragraphs struck me as very interesting, as it provides a simple explanation of why America is in decline. Our educational system is in decline and we are left producing more and more stupid people, at the expense of less and less smarter people. The end result is the decline and death of a nation. All because of an “alarming proliferation” of stupid people. Read about them all of the time, see many of them at work. They even have annual awards for some of their exploits (aka, The Darwin Awards).

I guess I only point this out because next week is election day. An off year for elections in our area, it’s the election for the local school board, school bonds, and other such stuff that has become part of the democratic process. School boards and elections have become big things of late, based on the news and the Virginia governor’s election. It is time to get our country moving in the right direction, before it is too late.

Interesting reading. I even found that Cipolla wrote a book, available for purchase on this and other topics, as identified here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/210480.Carlo_M_Cipolla

I hope that I cited the necessary works of others in this blog post. As I find helping my children with homework assignments, I often turn to the internet for help, as do they. I constantly remind them of the importance in citing other people whose words and ideas that you use, even in reports. I have come to find out that my children’s teachers run the reports, essays and other written words through various programs, specifically looking for plagiarism.

But I digress…

Tonight is Halloween. It was cancelled last year because of COVID, but this year, it appears that the kids will be able to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods. So I have my supply of candy just in case. Didn’t really do much in preparation, like decorations around the house, I didn’t purchase a Joe Biden mask, and not sure if the kids are going trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Neither one certainly spent any time getting a costume. We didn’t carve any pumpkins. As time marches forward, the things we did in the past, simply fade away and become memories, provided we have caught them on or IPhone.

Son and daughter, October 2016.
Son and daughter, October 2018.

Yesterday was full of many college football games, which caused me to be a couch potato and scream at my TV for most of the day. Michigan State beat Michigan, and Ohio State beat Penn State. Sets up some interesting games as we move through November when Michigan State plays Ohio State, Michigan plays Penn State and the granddaddy of them all, Michigan plays Ohio State. Clearly there will be much excitement over the next few weeks as we approach Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Another tradition of sorts is happening, starting this weekend. McDonald’s is bringing back the McRib sandwich. I will always choose the McRib, over the Big Mac. It is so newsworthy that it actually made the business pages…

McDonald’s announced the sandwich’s return back in September. | Fox Business

https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/mcrib-returns-next-monday

Check out what's clicking on FoxBusiness.com.
The tasty McRib, as depicted in foxbusiness.com

Not to be outdone, our local McDonald’s has already started selling the most delicious fast food item…here are my pictures from my order…

Why is it that what you order never, ever looks like the advertisement? Needless to say, my McRib tasted very good, which made me wonder if the advertised sandwich depicted above looks better than what I purchased and pictured, how is the taste? Better? As I contemplate these possibilities, I also envision that I might even venture out to find the Arby’s version, as they have advertised their latest creation, which doesn’t involve processed pork. I am a foodie at heart.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

Saturday morning. Autumn is here and the other rants of your host.

Happy Saturday! I cannot believe that October is almost over. Autumn is in the air because of the chill. We have had snow already. Many days it is in the mid 60’s, with the temperature getting below 40 at night. Horses need the overnight blanket, leaves are turning colors and Halloween is almost here. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Another year in the Land of Enchantment will have passed me by. Thirty one, but who is counting.

Have already been out this morning to get the typical Saturday breakfast when I have the kids. Chili Works burritos. One Jolly for me, and two Hawks (no egg) for the kids. A jolly is sausage, egg, cheese, potatoes and green chili. A hawk is ham, potatoes and cheese. All of this is placed inside a tortilla. Just delicious. My trusted companion, Jewel, came along for the car ride.

I had been thinking about entitling this post as the “ranting of a madman”, but thought the wiser. Sometime, every post that I write could be considered the rantings of a madman. As things stand, I have been very busy with work. Yes I am still at it although the thoughts of the next chapter resonate as each day passes. On some days, the call is louder and clearer than others. Soon, I tell myself, but even my closest a friends and coworkers are doubting me. The kids have completed almost a semester of school, and have done reasonably well in terms of grades. Mainly A’s, a couple of B’s and each has a C. For daughter it is economics, ceramics for son. My best friend from high school, who studied economics and now works for the Federal Reserve might have to come to her aid. As for son, not really sure how you can get a C in art class, but I might have to get my cousin’s wife out here since she is a now retired art teacher back in Pennsylvania.

With respect to work, I have spent the past two weeks in meetings with external visitors. By the middle of this week, I had already put in close to 60 hours; 60 hours and it’s Thursday. It never ends and this has been the norm for far too long. The start of the fiscal year should be a quiet time, even though the budget is dictated by continuing resolution. Planning and schedules completed. Work packages signed. NOT AT ALL. Not even a month and working on a BCP to adjust scope, schedule and budget to reflect changes. I cannot get my shit together. Congress cannot get it’s shit together.

America cannot get it’s shit together. Mark my words. By Christmas, we will have experienced 8 years of OBama, 1 year of Biden, and they will have added 50% of the total federal deficit that it took almost 250 years to become $30 trillion dollars. OBama dropped the load and now Biden is preparing to flush! OBummer and OBiden, as I like to call them, continue to take the country in the wrong direction. Part of me keeps working, paying bills, saving money and not spending because the recession caused by the pandemic in terms of the government spending like drunken sailors will soon be upon us. A nation which makes less and less, cannot continue to spend and borrow like it has. At some point, the IOU’s will come due, and it will not end well. Wow, what I would gladly give now for a mean tweet and some Fox News…

As I write this, son is in the background trying to tell me ideas for Christmas. Daughter is off feeding Ruby and checking on Roman. Could be a very lean Christmas since COVID continues to warp the currenworld economic order. The supply chain is boats in polluted waters off the coast of socialist Commiefornia. The misery index is heading up, largely being moved by inflation. What would you expect with all the money being printed, nothing being manufactured here. Homelessness, urban decay and greed abound. The unemployment increases are not far behind. The dumbing down of America continues. Perhaps if America stopped importing crap and exporting jobs, we would be better off. Ahead I see hard choices, hard times, and significant challenges. America first was about fixing our problems and a stop at pretending that we can rule the world.

Daughter has returned. How are Roman and Ruby, I ask? As my daughter is often short in words, “they are good” is the reply. She grabs her burrito and runs off to her room, to watch YouTube and perhaps work on her homework. Son finishes his burrito and still wants more. So I get him his morning meds while he has an orange and some captain crunch with crunchberries. The pandemic has not been good for any of us in terms of diet. We get the occasional email from school letting us know of a positive test. LANL has terminated those who did not get vaccinated; and those who were granted religious or medical waivers are on leave without pay until sanity returns.

And on top of all of this, Joe and the Libtards want to singlehandedly fix global warming. As if they will get serious and actually work on the problem. Somehow I doubt that they will. Whether climate change is real or not, it cannot happen overnight. The mantra of hard choices, hard times, and significant challenges also hang true here. As for me, I’d like to see us plant many more trees, improve the wetlands, and nuclear power all they way. It is the only true solution to stop fueling our economies by hydrocarbons and other carbon-based materials.

And stop with the BS about migration because of climate change.

But damn, I still want my bacon, my car, and my steak. I also demand my guns and my freedoms as they are guaranteed under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So on that note, son tells me that I need to go to the store and get more milk. Happy trails, happy ranting, and God bless everyone.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

Made in the USA

Since the early days of the pandemic, it was abundantly clear to many that we needed to return to a time when we made critical products here in the United States. The supply chain from companies was either unable to keep up, or was unable to supply the country with what it needed. During the pandemic, we were having to import KN95 masks. Many of these hospital masks are made by 3M, but most of their supply and manufacturing was made overseas.

Many of the key components and drugs, from antibiotics to life-saving drugs are being manufactured overseas. Odd since many of the drugs are developed and tested right here in the USA. Critical hospital equipment, semiconductors, the list goes on and on and on. The decline in our manufacturing has led to a decline in the middle class. The decline in our ability to manufacture advanced technology is indirectly tied to the sub-par educational system that our country spend billions to educate, only to consistently see sub-par performance in math and science.

We must turn all of this around if we want to continue to have a free society and an open nation. From computers, to nuclear, from wind and solar to modern transportation, our country continues to have to rely on the rest of the world to manufacture the tools for the next century. If our country is to continue to grow, we have to turn things around.

For many decades, it has been stated that clothing and textiles cannot be purchased that stare “Made in the USA”. Often, clothing is manufactured in many South American or Asian countries. Very little is available with the “made in the USA” label, or so I thought!

Growing up, in school and college, I typically would by shirts from made by Arrow. Either from JCPenney, or straight from the Arrow Shirt Factory in good old Lewistown, PA. Oxford cloth button-down collars were (and still are) my favorite dress shirt. My Aunt used to work there in the mid-70’s to the early 80’s, until it was closed. Jobs lost, and the manufacturing was pushed overseas. Today Arrow remains a registered trademark of Cluett, Peabody & Co., Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation. According to PVH, “Today Arrow is an authentic American lifestyle brand with a broad assortment of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and apparel-related products. Sold in over 55 countries worldwide.”

Today, the building that once made shirts is now a chocolate factory.

Today, I cannot buy these shirts with a “made in the USA” tag.

However, I have found several apparel manufactures that are still making clothing in the USA. I have tried the products from three manufacturers and I am impressed with the quality and the price. Everything is made in the USA, from the zipper to the denim. They are manufactured here as well. Since denim is made from cotton, American-grown cotton helps the farmers and avoids slave labor from another part of the world.

For jeans, I have purchased jeans from three different American manufactures. They are Texas Jeans Company, Dearborn Denim and Apparel and the All American Clothing Company.

To date I have purchased four pair of basic denim jeans from the Texas Jeans Company. I have to say that the quality and the fit is excellent. They did not shrink after multiple washings. They are of great quality and solid craftsmanship. I have been able to replace my complete Levis and Wrangler wardrobe for the same price. I am satisfied with the heavy stitching, the look and the feel of the product.

To date I have purchased a single pair of denim jeans and a black cotton classic T-shirt. The jeans are a lighter weight denim but have held up to multiple washings without fading, shrinkage or wear. The same is true of the T-shirt. I have found both garments to be of high quality made right here in America. As I see on their website that they also have made in the USA underwear, I will be purchasing more clothing from them in the near future.

The third clothing company that manufactures in America is the All American Clothing Company.

All American Clothing Co

To date I have purchased a single pair of jeans and 10 60/40 cotton/polyester T-shirts in a variety of colors. I have to say that the quality and the fit is excellent. They did not shrink after multiple washings. They are of great quality and solid craftsmanship. I have had no issues with the sizing, they fit just right. The T-shirts have not faded in color, nor have they run when washed with other clothes. I find that All American has a variety of clothing for men and women. As an example, I just recently purchased several polo shirts and shorts from All American. I have been pleased with the fit and quality of these as well.

As I have explored made in the USA clothing, I have come across many manufacturers. It appears that I can replace my entire wardrobe with quality made in America products, and plan to do so over the next few months. I will also be buying clothes for my children from these and other companies. Unless the tag says “made in the USA”, I will not be buying.

The bottom line is that made in the USA can compete in quality and in price. One just has to search on the internet, or can, on occasion, buy made in the USA from local retailers and even the big box stores. From socks to shoes to jeans to T-shirts, I am glad that I can look good and can purchase great quality.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

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.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

Music for the summer. A review.

Two new albums have have made the pandemic tolerable. They are Gigaton by Pearl Jam and Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan. Yes, they represent two diametrically opposite music styles. But music somehow represents points that have helped me in different periods of my life.

Gigaton by Pearl Jam is comprised of twelve songs. I have to say that I enjoy listening to all twelve songs. The styles of the songs run the gamete in terms of the musical spectrum that is the Pearl Jam sound. While the album comes out at a time which is odd in the continuing story of America, with the rioting and the pandemic, the words sound genuine about this point in time, a reflection of the past and hope for tomorrow.

Gigaton Album Art Cover.

A hard thumping grunge sound sets the tempo of the album with the albums first two songs, “Who Ever Said” and “Superblood Wolfmoon”. This is that characteristic Pearl Jam sound that I have learned to love over the years. Suddenly, I am whisked back to my high school/college days with a sound reminiscent of the Talking Head in “Dance of the Clairvoyants”. Experimental for Pearl Jam but well conceived. Then it’s a round-trip change with a quasi-Zeppelin sound in “Quick Escape”. Throw in another style change with “Alright”. “Seven O’Clock” is probably my favorite song on the album, largely because of the words, the excellent annunciation by Vedder, and the crisp music to tie everything together. “Never Destination”, “Take the Long Way” and “Buckle Up” continue in terms of experimentation, a return to the past, and reflections of other musical styles. All over the map on these three tunes but clearly they need to be listened to multiple times in order to grow into them. Then we switch gears with “Comes and Goes, with its strong guitar and haunting words of loss. The album is then rounded out with “Retrograde” and “River Cross”. Both songs are offer a strong finish to a great album. I cannot wait until they are touring again.

Pearl Jam

In the end, I can only conclude that we have five talented musicians who actually like each other, enjoy their music and have not let success ruin them. I am glad. I hope that they continue for another 20 to 30 years because I need another band to help me navigate through life, much like the Canadian trio RUSH who stopped performing several years ago.

The other album is Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan. Clearly a significant change from Pearl Jam. The 2 CD set contains his first album with new songs in eight years. The sound is the Dylan of late. The words are the Dylan of the ages. After listening to the nine new songs on disc one, I envisioned a future of hearing Dylan. Either on the stage at the Telluride Blues and Brews festival in September, or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in late April. Both have been postponed because of the pandemic. Both are music festivals that I greatly enjoy, and can hope that my vision comes true in 2021.

Album cover for Rough and Rowdy Ways, by Bod Dylan.

The two CD set contains ten songs in total. Disc one has nine songs and Disc two contains a single song. “I Contain Multitudes” starts off the album and is not associated with the poem by Walt Whitman, or the book by Ed Yong. But they could be…

Whitman writes about” Song of Myself”. It is a poem was divided into fifty-two numbered sections for the fourth (1867) edition and finally took on the title “Song of Myself” in the last edition (1891–2). In section 51 there is the following:

The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

The subtitle of Yong’s book is “The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life”. In both cases, and in alignment with the Dylan song, they appear to be reflections on one’s self.

“False Prophet” follows up and one is left to wonder if Dylan is talking about himself. I think not. The music continues through “My Own Version of You”, “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You”, and “Black Rider”. I find them as if Dylan is reflecting on old themes that I often hear in his music: people, places, the times and travels and roads taken. But “Black Rider extends those themes to envision finality or death, but it is unclear. “Goodbye Jimmy Reed” reminds me of a blues song, hitting those themes of people, places, times and travels. “Mother of Muses” pays homage to the ancient Greeks and I wonder if the Nobel Laureate is trying to get all classical on us. “Crossing the Rubicon” is probably my favorite song on the album. It represents a reflection of the past, and shows signs suggesting that all things, including life, are finite. Let’s remember that Dylan is almost 80 years old and perhaps even he feels his mortality. Disc one ends with “Key West (Philosopher Pirate)”, the second longest tune on the album, singing about themes as diverse as the town of Key West, places in Europe, and reminiscing about the age of poetry in Ginsberg, Corso and Kerouac, musicians like Armstrong, Hendrix, and Holly. Although several of the other songs on the album are intertwined with many people throughout history: Edgar Allen Poe, the Rolling Stones, Indiana Hones, Ann Frank, Leon Russell, Truman, Elvis, Martin Luther King, to Thelonious Monk, I wonder if Dylan is trying to find his own place in history. He should not worry.

Disc two, at just under 17 minutes, contains the single song “Murder Most Foul”. Here is Dylan reminiscing about the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963. While it is lacking in music (overall it is very simple), it is the spoken words by Dylan, tying the horrors of that day in Dallas to the culture and period of the 60’s. I wonder briefly is this is his attempt at rap? The song itself covers the period in which Dylan was most vocal about the American experience: the war in Vietnam, injustices in our society. These are the tunes of Dylan’s past that I was introduced to in college that I enjoy listening to over and over. While the voice has changed over the years, the themes, and the power of the words have not.

I doubt that my kids will ever enjoy his music, and share the meaning behind the words as I do, but I can at least try.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

What to write about … or thoughts from this fourth of July.

I try everyday to define several subjects to write about. Some days, the subjects never pan out in terms of a post that is interesting. Or at least they are interesting to me and maybe they might be interesting to you, the reader. Other times I just get lazy, and the ideas never become words on the screen. Maybe it is just the title, and nothing more.

The post today was the combination of two diverse topics. I have merged them together, cut down the size of the post. Unclear if it is cohesive, or just a bombastic expression being written on a late Sunday night.

Tomorrow is a work day. I will be working from home, planning for the week. Work rules because of the continuation of the pandemic permit me to work from home some days, but there are other days that I find myself in the office. With this post, I find that I am struggling which way to go. So many directions, so much to do. Decisions to make, plans to develop.

Last year for the 4th of July, I posted something of historical importance to reflect upon. It was the Declaration of Independence. I posted it because its words have meaning. They are important. The words transverse time. In thinking about what to post this year, my original thought was to just re-post the same thing. Have I become that lazy? Have my thoughts, my ability to express myself become useless?

A year has past and it has been quite a year. As I started writing yesterday, I thought that I needed to review and revise what I wrote. Yes the fourth of July was when the delegates voted for independence from Great Britain, and about a month had past between its ratification and when it was signed. They had to write their reasons for declaring their independence. Has the Declaration become just words, or is the meaning behind the words important today?

Pictures of the Declaration of Independence – Stone Engraving 1823.

Today we find that there are those who want to rewrite our history, destroy it because some find it offensive. History can be offensive. It is told from the point of view at the time. Like time itself, the point of view can change over the years. New information emerges that changes our perceptions, Opinions change, people change. But we can never forget the mistakes of the past. How else are we to grow, to get better, to help ourselves, and others?

Since last year, there has been a significant upheaval in the experiences of our people, of our community, and within our country. Given the protests, which have gone far beyond the concept of police brutality, one might question whether there is a need for a new declaration with ourselves? That may be true, but the foundations that built the original declaration, of God, of certain unalienable rights, the institution of government from the consent of the governed. Those foundations stand true today, but have been weakened by what government has become. Compromise in government is gone.

We now find ourselves in an economy struggling because of a pandemic, seeing a spike into the fifth month since we were asked to stay home. We have seen weeks of rioting in the streets for almost as long, but it is unclear if the protests are against the inability of equality for all individuals, or because some are choosing to advance anarchy at this juncture of the American experience. What I see is the loss of rugged individualism and the rewriting of history by a culture that fails to understand that history. We wish to remain free and to live our lives as we desire. That is our life, and those are the freedoms which the country is built upon. But there is a culture that no longer agrees with those tenants of how to live our lives. There are those who suggest that we should not, or that there are those who cannot, either by choice, or because others usurp those rights, the right to live our lives as we desire.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

America, elections, Facebook

I was reading several blogs this morning on the subject of social media and the upcoming election. I enjoy reading essays, and books on politics, political science, the histories of famous politicians, our Founding Fathers. And so I write this post under the backdrop that I was just banned from posting for 30 days on Facebook because I wrote something that went against their “community standards”. I find their “community standards” are based on opinions and that if you fail to lean to the left, your opinion on their site will be silenced or controlled. Banned in the name of “community standards”.

My screenshot from Facebook. BTW, I posted this on my Facebook page and they removed it, stating that the content isn’t available right now because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted. I did not delete it…

It is here where I would go off on a diatribe about political correctness and “I know it when I see it”.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

Not to be outdone, but the expression, famously used to describe obscenity, can be used for the characterization of so much more…

I know. You are wondering what I was banned for? Well this banning was for a comment that I made on a FaceBook posting of the seven candidates who are running as Democrats for the 3rd Congressional District of New Mexico. My comment to the posting was “You would have to be stupid to vote for Plame”. She is clearly the Democratic establishment’s candidate, an outsider. My opinion. Outsiders are sending lots of money to her campaign to elect another Pelosi bot who doesn’t care about helping the people of this state. My opinion. We had one for over 10 years and he is now running for the Senate. My opinion. She does not share my views on much of anything. I am not alone in that opinion. Your can read for yourself here (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/us/valerie-plame-new-mexico-congress.html). In my opinion, FaceBook is trying to control free speech and to hell with your own personal opinions.

It is May and I am now banned for 30 days. To be banned means that you cannot comment, post a like or smiley emoji, or post pictures on your feed. You can only look at the feed they direct towards you. The same thing happened to me last year, although I think it took me longer to be banned. I don’t consider what I said was demeaning, and I cannot even remember what the first offense was for 2020 that got me banned for 3 days. The second reason for being banned was just as stupid, which got me banned for 7 days. Now it is 30 days. Did somebody complain because I inferred that they were stupid? I don’t know. Suffice it to say, they control the medium and if you don’t conform to their wishes, their thinking, you pay the price. It is clear to me that they have been silencing fact from fiction, truth and opinion to their way of thinking. You don’t agree with us, you must conform to our community standards. Whatever happened to decency, fair play, truth, justice, the American way! I always find myself looking for the place where I can send an e-mail to the judge so they can tell me my crime, to try to argue why their decision is wrong. I always think ahead when I hit send, knowing that “yea, I’m going to get in trouble for that posting…” The last two have completely blown my mind in terms of what was wrong with what I said. In the last two examples, I did not think that I was going to be banned, Imagine my disdain and anger resulting from the situation. Whatever it was, it went against their “community standards”. The conspiracy theorist in me always goes into overdrive. Many people, absent an understanding of what was wrong, head in that direction. In the end, I chalk it up to too many marshmallows in the world who cannot take anything that is negative. Lest I forget, the employees of Facebook come from the generation that received participation trophies or were educated and graded on the curve. Our opinions must be checked against emotion.

So maybe it is a good thing that I am banned from Facebook for 30 days. I get so angry after reading some of the stories that people post as news. I can see where we have become so divided on so many issues. It isn’t just Facebook that gets me angry, I get that way after actually reading real news, whether it is the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. Don’t get me started about CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox News, etc. Lots of the journalism that these organizations once practiced has been lost in the era of political correctness. Some of what I see there goes against my community standards but it never gets banned or blocked. Some of the memes, on both sides of the political spectrum are just so caustic. Not sure if they are created by Russian trolls, Russian bots, or people who actually have a sick or very dark sense of humor. They no longer report news and the story. It is filtered by the opinion of the reporter, or the broadcaster. They never get to the story because it is overtaken by conjecture and opinion, never slanted by the facts, or digging for the truth.

Anyway, I can calm down and spend more time writing on my blog.

There is lots of chaos this election season. Between the coronavirus / COVID19, stay-at-home-restrictions, the phased return to normalcy plans, an economy that went from stellar to depression in a matter of months, this is clearly an important election. I expect to write more as we get close to November on the subject of the election.

With much interest, I read the posting from Krista Stevens entitled “From Russia, With Malice” (https://longreads.com/2020/05/12/from-russia-with-malice/). I would characterize the post as an essay of a larger work by Franklin Foer in The Atlantic on the idea that Russia want to eradicate democracy (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/putin-american-democracy/610570/), and they’re doing a fine job of it.

The problem, which plays right into the hands of the Russians, is that the United States is already too divided to do much about it. Those are their ideas. They are not my ideas. That said, I must agree with them. My idea would that be no matter how divided we are, I think we would all agree that our democracy is under attack. Our way of life is under attack. And it is from a number of places. Whether it is Russia, China, Iran, or even within our own country. The basic freedoms that we Americans hold dear are under attack. Within our own country, I lump Facebook, Twitter and Google into the group that is attacking our democracy. I have read many articles where the three social media companies have restricted information, free speech and opinion. Case in point, see above for Facebook. And while I agree that hate speech, racism, evil, pornography and words that incite riots or endanger people should be controlled, people are educated to make up their own minds and opinions about what is before us. Not government, not corporations. Are we not smart enough to think for ourselves? When did protecting our privacy, which they could do more on, become protecting what we think and say? Probably because they cannot make money off of my opinions.

Of course, the left will blame Trump. The right will blame Democrats who push for socialism. The outsiders will sow discontent on all of the above, pushing stories to fan the flames of either opinion. Facebook will tout it’s “community standards”. We have lost our will to “agree to disagree”. My opinion may be that your political position is “stupid” and if that offends you, so be it. That was not my intent. I am not trying to sow discord, only debate. It is my opinion and “stupid” is probably your opinion towards me. I’m OK with that. I accept that. Political correctness has reached a new level. We have lost our ability to accept the opinion of others and go out of our way to attach those opinions, and the persons who espouse those opinions. One’s political opinion becomes disinformation for another.