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Wow. I cannot believe it is autumn already.

I can feel it in the air. The morning air has a bit of a chill. The leaves already have a tinge of orange color in them. College football occupies the weekends. It isn’t getting into the mid 80’s in the afternoon like it did just a few weeks ago. And friends on Facebook have already posted photos of snow in the mountains of Colorado.

As for me, it has been 43 days since my last posting. Much has happened with myself and the clan since the last positing.

As a nation, we remembered the tragedy of September 11. My son turned another year older. My daughter got another horse. The horse went down with colic, had surgery and is on the slow road to recovery. Stall rest for at least 3 months.

Welcome Roman…aka License to Thrill.

For me, it was long hours at work. Work continues to just be bad. I no longer want to be there. I was going crazy and needed a break.

In some ways, we were still being locked out of normal because of COVID. That also was taking its toll on my mental and physical psyche.

The positive happening during these past 43 days was that I had enough and took a much needed vacation. I was obviously going crazy. The stress was just getting to me and I needed to get away. Thinking back, except for short excursions over a weekend, a few days here and there, I really had not had a true vacation in years.

It was long overdue.

So I left. I hoped on an airplane and went for a trip. Went back east to the garden state of New Jersey. I enjoyed some of the best food New Jersey has to offer…

Something that just is not available in New Mexico.

I got to see some old friends…

Yes it is a Friday night high school football game. My college roommates son was playing.

Odd that I flew to New Jersey, only to drive to Pennsylvania to watch a high school football game. Priceless!

And I got to listen to some great music…

Yes. I was able to catch Pearl Jam after three years (along with 35000 other people), and spend an evening with The Smashing Pumpkins. Outstanding performances by both. Not to mention other performances spanning several musical genre. It was great music…in a great location…

on the beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

It was a good substitute for the Telluride Brews and Blues Festival. Beer, music, food. What more could I ask for? I was able to get out, see the ocean, see the beach, and relax.

I also managed to visit some other interesting places in New Jersey as I drove along the ocean…

I have always had a thing about lighthouses.

Sun, good food, a good book and relaxation. Yes I am still trying to finish reading Atlas Shrugged after all these years. It was a memorable trip, one that I will have to make again. It was great to reconnect with some old friends, whom I thank for taking the time out of their busy schedules to enjoy food and conversation, even if it was a brief moment.

And if this trip served as a prelude for retirement, then I am there.

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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.

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We need to come up with a different title format…

I started to write about today and was beginning to type “Today is Sunday August 8, 2021”. Then it hit me. That is really kinda dull. Although a somewhat nerd-like title, do people actually care about what I did for the week? Probably not. Even more important, would one even get that from the title “Today is Sunday…” Kinda how the evening news either started or ended some 50 years ago. Of course, that title doesn’t really say anything other than it is Sunday August 8. It is a dull introduction. Really doesn’t excite the reader that “hey, maybe there is something interesting hear, something that I can spend a few minutes of my busy life to read, to laugh, to learn”.

After all, I am a rather boring human being. I admit that, otherwise I am not being open and honest. If this blog is to truly express… “The purpose of this blog is for me to explore things that interest me as I plan for my next 50-plus years on this planet. Starting out, I am writing about my family and activities, but as time progresses, it will be about anything. Stay tuned, check in often and enjoy the ride.”, then I am pretty sure that the next 50 years may be as boring as the first 50 years. At least on paper.

And so I leave the title with my secondary thought, which is “we need to come up with a different title format…”, not telling the audience, or for that matter, myself, what am I going to write about today?

Perhaps the unknown will carry the reader forward to at least review today’s ramblings. Clearly I may have found some new sense of posting on TheMcKeeSpot, especially since my record of late in terms of posts has been just awful. Well lets start with the usual and see where it goes. Maybe I can get into a rhythm and write more frequently. I found it interesting that last weeks post had over 30 hits in terms of people stopping to check out what I had to write about. Maybe we can keep the momentum and increase the visits.

This week was uneventful, like most weeks. Didn’t find my soulmate, the winning formula for happiness, or a bank error in my favor and millions in cash. I didn’t retire, yet, to start the next 30 years of my life, or is it 50?

Today started like just about most days. Up early, but I feel somewhat rested as I think that I may have gotten over five hours sleep. Rare for me of late, but I have been tired and afraid that being well off my sleep and not eating well, I will find myself run down and then sick. In the past, this was the cycle of sorts. Long work hours, get run down, then be out for several days. Sick, sick, sick. Recover, and then resume the cycle anew. Not a positive quality of life experience. However, as I have gotten older, certainly past age 50, the cycle has subsided. Still get the atypical 4 hours (on average) sleep, but the cycles of dog-tired sick happen less and less.

And now, welcome to the age of COVID. When I go out and about around town, I find myself wearing my mask indoors. But on the sidewalk, walking across the grass near Ashley Pond, no mask. In stores, I wear my mask. In groups, sometimes, whether it is indoors and outdoors. Are my civil liberties being violated? To quote others, it is simply “my body, my choice”. It’s that simple.

The view walking past Ashley Pond on August 8, 2021. Note the haze in the background.

This weekend I find myself feeding the horses as the kids are on a mini-vacation with their mom. School starts next week. As you can probably expect, they are not excited. In the age of COVID, the new normal is not the same as the old normal. Not for the better, maybe for the worst.

AT THIS POINT, I LOOK AT THE CLOCK AND REALIZE I HAD BETTER STOP IF I AM GOING TO KEEP MY MORNING COFFEE CABAL WITH A FRIEND. CERTAINLY MORE TO FOLLOW…

On my stroll for coffee, I spy two local celebrities.

The two geese who call the pond home…Homer and Edna. The only celebrities who have frequented the pond recently.

A typical Los Alamos Sunday at the pond. An older couple eating a McDonald’s breakfast on a nearby picnic table, a young family chasing their kids, a dog taking his owner out for a morning stroll. Of course, I know none of them but we all are obliged to say hello.

I have since returned…A supercharged conversation with a caffeine high on sunny, somewhat warm but pleasant day. Yep, by then I was into my second cup of coffee, having already had one earlier in the morning from feeding the horses. Wow, away for over two hours discussing the end of the world as we know it and the decline of the American civilization. How work was last week? The usual mayhem from the management ranks, retirement, the stock market, the future.

Of course, any conversation this week in Los Alamos would have to also acknowledge the 76th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb. My friend and coworker asked me if I managed to observe the dozen or so individuals protesting at Ashley Pond yesterday. Holding their signs, acknowledging that the bomb is illegal and immoral. My response is that “so long as the world remains an evil place, I can go to sleep at night knowing that we can also turn the world into an uninhabitable place in a few hours.” Just as global warming is destroying to ecosystem because of the log-term actions of man (maybe), so too can man decide to end it at the push of a few buttons.

How is that for a positive, a healthy view of the future? Neither positive, healthy or an exciting view. But then perhaps my negativity is a characteristic of what I have been reading for the week. Soon, people in California will not be able to get bacon because of a statewide vote a few years ago on a particular proposition related to the inhuman way hogs are raised. Then it is on to the ongoing debate as to whether the 2020 election was fair, free, correct. Of late I find myself reading about the preppers. Those are the people who are preparing for the end of the world, the next American Civil War, the zombie apocalypse. The Luddite in mean enjoys reading about how to prepare for tomorrow.

And then my mind really starts racing. What if COVID is god’s answer to overpopulation? What is wrong with America? I no longer understand this country, or is it I no longer fit in this country? Has it changed for the better, or for the worst, or I just didn’t see it as it passed me by? Did I care? Should I care?

Yes I care because I have two kids who will be returning to school this week. One in high school, the other in middle school. Sadly, it is clear to me that my generation will not be leaving a country and a planet, that is in better shape than the previous generation. We can change that but it will require much cooperation across the planet. As my friend commented on earlier this morning, we humans are like the COVID virus. We mutate to prolong ourselves, but we leave the host, whether it is the virus attacking the body, or humans on our planet, we leave the host in a condition that is worse than it was in when we started.

The view from the stables this Sunday morning. On most days, the sky is blue and one can see the Jemez mountains. Not today, as smoke rolls in from the wildfires in California and elsewhere…

Today we are under a polluted air advisory for the area. It is the smoke from the western fires, but you cannot smell the smoke. But the haze is consistent with air circulating from fires. As the photo above shows, it is very hazy. If in doubt, look at the photo below. One cannot see the horizon, let alone the mountains across the valley. looks worse than those years when the fires were actually burning closer to home.

Looking across my lot to the neighbor’s stable lot. Normally the sky is blue and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains can be easily seen in the background. Today there is nothing except several horses in their paddocks.

And so I leave today’s ramblings much like I started. Unsure of a title, unsure of tomorrow, unsure of what is next. Until next time…

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Today is August 1, 2021

Wow, it has been almost two months since my last posting. I’ll chock it up to laziness and not because of a lack of ideas. Another Sunday is before us. Time to rest, recover, and get ready for the next week. In the idea department, I have been working on three themes of late. So I have had to do research on the topics before putting them down. More on that later. As a trained scientist who still follows science, the complete lack of research on any topic makes it just an uneducated opinion. And of late, everything, from the daily news to whatever is just opinion.

In some ways, this blog is based on my opinion about things, from the subjects that I write about to the words that I use to convey the topic. Opinion is OK, so long as we agree to disagree. When it deteriorates from a difference of opinion to verbal harassment to physical abuse, then we have a situation that is not good.

And that my friends is where we find out country. We have a great many differences of opinion, but lack the leadership and the courage to compromise and move forward together. Certainly, as a society, we lack the art, the passion, or the will to compromise. Of late it has been one way or the other.

But this is not the subject that I care to write about today. Instead, what have I been up to since last I posted back in early June? Well the answer is, not much. I find myself still working, and working long hours, On the work front, I have come to a fork in the road. Simply, I no longer get the enjoyment from what I do, of that which I have done in various capacities over these 30 years. I long for the next journey in my life. It is one that I hope will keep my young and active for another 30 years.

I have been giving that a great deal of thought of late, thinking that it is time to embark on a new adventure. Plans I have a plenty. Execution has been limited.

Looks like it will be another mild and sunny day here in Los Alamos. Rain is again in the forecast, with the summer monsoons underway, bringing much needed moisture for the area. As for me, I slept in till 5 am, got up, made coffee, read some news and then went to feed the horses.

Ruby and Jasper were out standing in the mist that transformed into rain while I was mucking and feeding them. It was a very comfortable 58 F outside. Of course, the rain will certainly help my tomato plants that I have growing on the back deck.

My plants certainly are not growing tomatoes like the pictures that came with the plants. Thought about a garden in the back third of the stable lot but never started the necessary work to make that happen. So we will see how this summer goes in terms of whether I have a green thumb. Next year I can build some boxes for growing vegetables. Thinking that this may be one way to spend my time after I retire: taking care of the horses and growing some veggies.

The aquarium at the house with the final two fish, both whom are 5 years old.

Since it is just son and I this weekend, Saturday took us to Santa Fe, where we went to restock the aquarium. The pandemic certainly limited the options available from the pet store, but we managed to get six additional fish. So far, after 24 hours, they are all doing well. I hope that the two old-timers in the aquarium make the new fish feel right at home.

Daughter piled up some rocks during a family outing the other week to Durango, along the Animas River.

Took a family outing a few weeks back to Durango. One day was spent tubing the Animas River. Water was low and of a temperature that was just right. Fun was had by all. It is always good to get the kids out and show them things that I did from time to time growing up. Daughter was playing in the water and built this pile of rocks. Of course the pile of rocks reminded me of the RUSH Test for Echo album cover.

Cold IPA after one evening. Sitting on the hotel patio watching the Animas River go by. Very relaxing.

So school will resume shortly for the kids, in about two weeks. Both are vaccinated, but this new wave of the virus is certainly a cause for concern. We will probably wear masks, knowing that the county has a vaccination rate of over 85%, but it appears that the vaccine has its limits. Wore my mask at the grocery store this morning out of an abundance of caution. I typically take one with my to work, as it looks like the mask requirements will resume shortly. Of course, government could change things again and resume the lock down and bar gatherings and such. I am like most people and the idea of returning to work from home, staying inside, and the like will not be viewed favorably this time around. I have some travel coming up soon, and that will certainly be a topic for a later post.

And so, with this free-lowing update spanning several weeks since my last post, comes to an end with pictures of daughter performing yoga on a rock in the Animas, to your humble author and son in a hotel room in Durango, I bid you all good bye until next time. I will endeavor to do better and post more often. Have a great day, take a deep breath and enjoy.

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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.