Technology

Today was orientation for my daughter who is going into 9th grade. After a morning orientation for her, a one hour orientation for the parents, I had to double check her registration since she was out last week. The main office had no idea what we were talking about. After a few phone calls and questions, we were able to get things taken care of so she can start school tomorrow.

First up was to pick up her Chromebook. Let me say at the outset that I don’t think highly about Google. It is clear that they have a monopoly on the internet, and want to take over computers and phones and manage your house. That’s too much control and they really need to do a better job at privacy and protection of personal information. I’ll save that for another time.

Next up was to gather her textbooks. They were closed. So since we had time before lunch and to get son squared away, we stopped by the office to make sure she was registered correctly, and check out her locker and walk around the campus so she understood where all of her classrooms are housed. The campus has multiple buildings.

It was there that she zinged me. I asked if they could help me with my PowerSchool log-in. I was having trouble and could not get in. PowerSchool allows me, as the parent, to check grades, her assignments, and a bunch of things. I commented that we didn’t have these issues when I was in high school 40 years ago. Her response was “well father, back then they did not have technology”. I turned, laughed and. Said “yes, we had typewriters”.

That started a whole conversation about how stressful things have become for kids. The assistant, who was younger than I said that “back then, we didn’t have to worry about things because if you did something stupid, looked bad, whatever. Today it is photographed and on the internet”. My response was, “that was true, but I can find photos of me that would fit these characterizations”. She was right, it wasn’t that they didn’t exist, it was that they would be available for all to see, instantaneously, today because of the internet. In my age, I still had control of the media, who could see these things, so on and so forth. Today everything is instantaneous. That is why today we must have instant satisfaction, instant gratification. No patience. In my day, we had to be patient Time was our friend.

Today, time isn’t a factor because everything happens at the speed of light. We do not have the time to appreciate the finer things, to contemplate what we are doing, to venture down a road that is a bad decision and contemplate our actions.

We need to start thinking for the long term. Contemplate before you act. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy those moments. I enjoyed mine today. Not to be outdone, son also got to meet his teacher and we checked out his classroom. He will also do well this year I am certain. His teacher is the same teacher as my daughter had when she was in 6th grade. She had fun. I am hoping the same for him.

The Day Before the First Day of School

Tomorrow is the day before the first day of school. Daughter has a morning of orientation and registration. Son has an afternoon meet and greet with his teacher, and a haircut and a fitting for glasses. I cannot believe that summer is over.

Where did the summer go? I had plans for weekend trips and camping with the kids; quiet excursions to coffee shops to read and to work on the stable. I did none of this.

For daughter, much of her summer was spent riding and not doing much of anything else. Riding did not fill her day, nor did she ride everyday. The rest of her day was spent drawing, listening to music and computer games with her friends. As for the riding, she would work harder and ride daily as time got close to competitions. She competed in several events this year, from The Eventing X Games at Goose Downs, the Coconino Horse Trials and the USPC Championships Central Region. She placed individually and as member of a team in some but not all of the competitions.

She was part of the Southwest Pony Club team and they managed several first place finishes last week at the USPC Championships (photo above) Riding will continue with the start of school and so we shall see how things go for the rest of the year.

But school comes first and in the case of daughter, she will be starting 9th grade. My teenager is starting high school.

For son, he spent much of the summer in several week day camps. They included art camp, two weeks of hiking and nature camp and two weeks of a computer game programming camp. The summer art camps were not as good as the school year Wednesday art camps, and we still had problems with him being challenged at the schools and being bullied. Still, he had a good summer, with four of his pieces getting into the end of year art show at Fuller Lodge (photo lower left). Unfortunately, he spent too much time on the computer playing games, but let’s hope that 6th grade will temper his game playing as school becomes more challenging for him.

I think if you ask him, his best day of the summer was when I took him to Dave and Busters for the afternoon (photo upper right). I had fun as well.

Summer is almost over. No trips, concerts, or even weekend getaways for me. I find myself still in my funk and think I need to just get away from work for awhile. Or perhaps a major change.

Sunday ramblings

Today is Sunday August 4. Spent the better part of the past 3 days contemplate my future. In the background is the Fox News broadcast “Life, Liberty & Levin”. I seldom watch the news on TV, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching. The platform is a question and answer session, which is better than many of the talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum. The subject is a discussion about the second Cold War with Niall Ferguson. It entails an economic war as opposed to a military conflict, but that the long view is that China will win because they take a long-term view and that our political system will rive change and we will loose site on the long term. Interesting conversation. I have long found that the interface between economics and history/politics interesting. If I had been smarter, perhaps I could have made a career in the field.

Daughter leaves for the US Pony Club National Championships central region. The competition is in Colorado this year, which is a 6 hour trip near Denver. Son and I will stay home to keep the stress down. I wish her luck in all of the events that she is competing in. Hopefully she will remain n the horse and finish. Both she and Ruby have been practicing hard the past several weeks. She will be competing in show jumping and eventing.

Friday I managed to visit with my financial guy to review my status on the path towards retirement. While I am on tract, I have a few areas to clean up. The discussion covered numerous areas beyond just focusing on 401k balances, debt, and what I plan to do after retirement. Of course, plans are always subject to change. Given the current political climate, I am concerned that much could change and destroy my plans and my future.

Then of course, we had another weekend of a lone gunmen and mass killings. I am pro gun and believe that guns don’t kill people, rather people kill people. That said, I have no problems with background checks, licenses and insurance much like one has for an automobile, keeping automatic guns out of the hands of people, and mental health. You need to keep guns out of the hands of some people. The issue then becomes how. You also need to acknowledge that if people want to harm others, they will. I get a check up annually as far as my mental health as required for my job and my employer. Sadly, I am afraid that the increases in gun killings recently has more to do with the declines in our society and it’s values, the fact that we continue to lesson the value of human life. This is in opposition to those who subscribe to a theory that the increase is associated with the number of guns available.

There is much hate these days, and it surfaces on social media often. Politically, we are divided as a nation and it shows in many areas. I will have more to say about these topics as we continue on the journey of this blog.

Frustration and a funk

FRUSTRATION – the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something.

FUNK – a state of depression. The dumps. The doldrums.

It has been about ten days since my last post to The McKeeSpot. Of late, I have found myself in a funk, frustrated with work, frustrated with myself and where I am in my life. Over the years I often find myself looking internally over time. It’s always good to evaluate life, identify opportunities to grow, to change. Decisions made, questioning and reflection.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/path-less-traveled_n_3732398

This frustration and funk has led to a haze where I think of a subject for the blog, start to jot down a few lines, but I simply could not complete the thought. It was not coherent, cohesive, or even interesting. This funk has lasted for awhile over the past few weeks, and to varying degrees. I still like my job, overall. Great people. Everyday is a new challenge. However of late, I find it more and more difficult to go to work everyday. Not great in starting my day as a cremudgeon. Overall my health is good, I am at good point in my life. Am I being accurate? Truthful?

It often overshadows my morning meetings and coffee cabel.

I see elements of this frustration and funk everyday at work. I am taking longer to complete work products, reviews, documents. Earlier this year I developed a presentation to introduce new and young staff on the project I manage. It was well received. However, putting that presentation into an article that can be published has advanced slowly over the past several months. Why is that? Too much work, too little time, too many demands on my time, striving for perfection, details that need to be reviewed, tested and implemented. I see lots of anger in the words that I have drafted for the paper. That anger is the closest that I have come to express my frustration with work.

These details exist across the program, across the multiple work products, across my coworkers. I sense that I am not alone in these issues at work. Management fails to see it, comment on it, assist in reducing it. There may be part of the problem.

Could it be that I have done a poor job evaluating my life, opportunities to grow, to change? Have I ignored the signs that could have led me in another direction? Is it that I never experienced a mid-life crisis? Are past decisions coming back to nag my subconscious? I am keeping it to myself, keeping it internalized isn’t a better situation.

High School Reunion

Saturday, July 20th was my 40th high school reunion. I am a graduate of the Class of 1979 from Chief Logan High School in Lewistown, Pa. If my memory is correct, I was one of 243 students in our class.

The former Chief Logan Joint High School was changed in 2011 to the Mifflin County Junior High School. The change was associated with cost cutting and decline in the population of school age children. The building itself was built in 1957 and has gone through several upgrades over the years. The school itself sits near Pleasant Acres, a housing community situated between Lewistown and Burnham. Many of my friend lived in Pleasant Acres. My best friend from high school lived about a block from the school.

We were the Chief Logan Mingos, named after the Indian Logan. Logan was born in Pennsylvania circa 1725. Logan’s father was a Cayuga American Indian named Shikellamy. Shikellamy later renamed his son after James Logan, a prominent Pennsylvanian. He lived near what is present-day Lewistown in the late 1760’s to early 1770’s. He later resettled to Ohio near Yellow Creek, a village of Seneca-Cayuga natives. Logan became a war leader but continued to urge his fellow Cayuga not to attack whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed on May 3, 1774, when a group of Virginia settlers murdered approximately one dozen Seneca-Cayuga. Among them were Logan’s mother and sister. Logan demanded that the Seneca-Cayuga and their allies, principally the Shawnee, revenge the deaths of his loved ones. Cornstalk, a prominent Shawnee leader, still called for peace, but Logan ignored him. He conducted raids in western Pennsylvania, killing thirteen whites in retaliation for the Seneca-Cayuga deaths. His attacks, and escalating Anglo-American settler aggression against the Ohio Country’s American Indian peoples, resulted in Lord Dunmore’s War.

In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Seneca-Cayuga villages, which wereabandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, sent one thousand men to the Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and attack the Shawnee. Many of the tribe, who had experienced a change of heart toward the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnees to drive Dunmore’s force from the region. The forces met in October 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove the Indian followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met to determine peace terms. Logan refused to attend but did send a speech known as “Logan’s Lament.” Simon Girty, an Englishman that the American Indians had kidnapped and then raised as one of their own, may have read it at the conference. It became one of the most famous speeches by an American Indian in North American history, made famous by Thomas Jefferson. Logan died in 1780’s.

Over the past twenty eight years I have gotten back a few times to visit family. As time goes on, that frequency has been less and less. The last time was a year ago, taking my daughter to a riding camp and my son on a mini-vacation. That last time, I drove my kids to the old high school, but it was closed. Not much contact with teachers either. My favorite hasty teacher died a number of years ago. I did manage to reminisce with my high school Chemistry teacher at my dad’s funeral a few years ago. Actually I had to bring him up to speed in terms of members of the class, some whom were his neighbors during high school.

In an ironic twist of fate over the years, a good friend of mine from high school went to work with a friend of mine from college. I talked to both of them via e-mail and LinkedIn. I hadn’t seen my high school friend in years; the last time was his senior year in college. I went to visit my sister at Penn State and we met up. Too much drinking that night.

Over the years, I managed to return to two high school reunions. The first was after 5 years. It was easy to attend that reunion since I had graduated from college and was getting my masters degree about an hour from home. The last time was for my 35th high school reunion. The reunions after that were notionally 5 and 10 years apart. I don’t recall getting many notices about those events, between Graduate School and leaving for New Mexico, the distance and time a was transformed by living life, family and kids. There was the occasional “crossing of paths”, a wedding, notice of the loss of a friend, family, etc. Never really time to catch up and reminisce.

I tried to reminisce that Saturday evening, some 2000 miles away from home and the reunion. But I could not find my yearbook. I can explore the pictures and the pages of the book on Classmates.com, but without it, I don’t have many photos of that time period in my life. Between having moved over the years, living my teenage years in a broken home, often on my own. I participated in several extra curricular activities my junior and senior year, but that was somewhat curtailed with a job at the local KMart. Those were good times and I had a great group of friends. We all have drifted apart over the years. Aside from an occasional FaceBook post, I have lost contact with many of them over the years. Perhaps travel upon retirement will afford me the opportunities to reconnect. There is always the Christmas Card route.

I really wanted to return to my 40th because a number of my friend, through FaceBook, indicated that they were going to be ther. Sadly, work-related travel and travel for horse events has curtailed my ability to travel back east. To even get back east for a day requires a full day out and a full day back.

Friends posted group and individual photos on FaceBook so that was great to see how people had changed over the years visually. Maybe we will have a 45th year high school reunion hen most of us will be 63. Of course, there is also my college reunion with the classs of 1983, Graduate school doesn’t have much in the way of reunions.

I was able to look at the FaceBook photos posted. Everyone looked well and they looked like a good time was had by all. Wish I was there.

Moon Landing 50 years later

Tomorrow is July 20th. Fifty years ago, man landed and walked on the moon.

In 1969, I was 8 years old. At that age, I was super crazy about anything and everything concerning space. I had model rockets, a space suit. I would write NASA every month to get free stuff. Pictures, articles, anything.

I remember watching the Apollo 11 launch, the landing on the moon. I stayed up to watch the astronauts walk on the moon. I watched the splashdown. Fifty years ago, July 20th 1969, was a great day to be a kid. To be an American. We all felt proud of the accomplishment. I didn’t know that then. Reflecting upon that time, I know it now.

The internet is full of images and pictures of the space program and the Apollo 11 mission. The photo above is that of Apollo 11 launching from Cape Kennedy. Interesting now but as I am exploring photos to capture the historic mission, I find that the internet’s first message transmission happened in October 1969 (https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2014/today-in-media-history-the-internet-began-with-a-crash-on-october-29-1969/ ). Lots of articles about the differences in computer technology between today with the iPhone versus the computers programmed with 1’s and 0’s.

From the earth, I find myself always look at and wonder in amazement about the moon. Looking at this photo, taken during Apollo 11, I can only wonder the amazement of being on the moon looking back at the earth. The earth is so blue with white clouds.

Several photos that I found on the Internet, specifically the NASA historical page, covering the Apollo 11 mission. The first is a photo of the LEM (LEM is lunar excursion module) leaving Michael Collins and the command module. The other two are from the moons surface: astronaut Buzz Aldrin climbing down the LEM and Aldrin saluting the flag on the moon. I look at these photos, and others, and wonder how people managed to believe that the moon landing was faked.

As I searched the internet, I came across the photo above in an article (https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a16534/heres-how-the-apollo-astronauts-took-out-the-trash/ ). Sadly, we littered on the moon, in a photo captured by Neil Armstrong shortly after he took that one small step. The Indian crying ad over littering, and the idea of Keep America Beautiful didn’t occur until 1971.

The last photo in my internet search is the lifting of the Apollo 11 command module after splashdown, onto the USS Hornet. American spacecraft, with the exception of the Space Shuttle always landed in the ocean. Why is that? No specific article on the subject, but reading several postings suggest that it is because there is no need for a breaking rocket to slow the descent in the atmosphere. American capsules have a heat shield to keep the heat from re-entry burning up the capsule. The heat is caused by friction from the falling object as it goes through the atmosphere, from a vacuum to pressure caused by the gases in the atmosphere. Today the capsule sits in the Smithsonian Institution.

I’m not sure if it was my infatuation with space that led my to a career in science. Was it the experience, the adventure, research and development? Not in total, but it certainly contributed. The study of any science is lacking in our country today. That decline has certainly led to a decline in our technology development, education, ability to compete in the arena of ideas in the modern world.

All topics for a future posting.

Meetings

I have been lamenting of late to many about all of the meetings I have at work. Of late it has been nonstop, from 7 am to 4 pm. Meeting, meeting, meeting. It has been this way for weeks. Meetings do not make me feel that I have been successful, or have accomplished much. Review this document, discuss that topic in this meeting.

All of the meetings are largely associated with work process, work issues, or difficulties in getting things accomplished. First off was a two hour meeting to gather data and understand a process upset late last week. Such gathering of data can be a time consuming and lengthy process. That was followed by a one hour meeting explaining a timeline of the process upset and to speculate on what happened. This information was discussed in detail, or at least as much detail based on limited details, more conjecture, and then the development of a plan to get operations back up and running.

Then the next 6 hours ( 5 hours plus lunch) of today was working on work planning and schedule it of process details and cost and process efficiency over the next 5 to 7 years. I can plan my next day and have that schedule change, who thinks we can plan work details for the next year, let alone 5 to 7 years. Luckily, I have more of those meetings tomorrow.

This past Monday and Tuesday were just as bad. Monday typically starts of with a weekly update on a special project that we have been working. The special project is behind schedule, but also woefully underspent. The staff engineers, scientists and technicians have been bouncing back and forth between two to three distinct and separate projects. The root cause of the poor execution of the special project is poor planning, taking longer to get procedures and process equipment and operations in place.

The majority of the meetings on Monday and Tuesday focus on our main project, which is a $60 million dollar a year activity over the next decade or two. The big Tuesday meeting lays out the details of work processes for the next several weeks. This is used to make sure the necessary resources are available to meet the goals of the overall plans being executed. We are within weeks of meeting our 2019 production goals, which has to be met by the end of September. Our production has been moving very far very fast and we are well on our way towards meeting next year’s production goals. This is being accomplished with much change in the process. Investment in new equipment, which takes several years to accomplish, is progressing. Such investments will improve efficiency, reliability and maintain ability of equipment. Many areas to work on in supporting this effort, some travel, many reports and documents to produce. Charts and monthly, and biweekly reporting.

I need to spend future posts and discuss where I work and what I work on.