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
Family

Thanksgiving

Yes, I am writing this posting a few days after Thanksgiving. It has been a quiet but busy morning for me. It has been a month since my last post. I have, unfortunately, been too busy with work. COVID continues to make the new normal less normal. The world has become a very strange place. I am afraid that the planet that I leave for my children will be far worse than the planet that my parents left for me.

Thanksgiving was typical for me. It represents an annual treat where I get to practice chemistry in the modern sense. I get to cook. I get to enjoy wine. Wine for me; soda and water for the kids. But they like it that they get to drink out of wine glasses. I get to sit around the dinner table with my family. And for the most part, they put down their phones and iPad’s for eating and conversation (although they sneak a glance now and then). So true for this year as in previous years. It has become my annual tradition since the divorce.

Thanksgiving 2021

The kids basically came over for dinner and desert, and like that, they left. I find it troublesome that I do not get to see them as much but after all, they have their own life.

Now that daughter can drive, she comes and goes as she pleases. On this day, she arrived after son, coming from the stables after feeding Ruby and Roman.

Friday was spent doing some reading, cleaning up around the house. Watching some movies. And of course, eating leftovers.

Saturday was football. Ohio State lost. Penn State lost. All of the teams that I was routing for…lost.

Kinda spent Friday and Saturday as a couch potato. Maybe more like the “I want to be alone because the outside is such an evil place”. Didn’t even go for my morning walks the whole time I was off from work. And it shows that I have eaten more than usual as I have managed to put about 5 pounds on. Need to work harder on the whole diet routine because I have plateaued and cannot get to my next target. Jewel is bothered as she didn’t get her morning walks. She was usually sitting on the sofa next to me, but this morning I think she went back to bed. But tomorrow the routine of the work week will resume, and she will get her time.

Outside it is cold, as the mornings I find myself awakening to temperatures in the 30’s. The cold part of fall has arrived in northern New Mexico, as has some snow, especially in the upper elevations.

Spent this morning without coffee. That is something I will have to rectify shortly. But I managed to make the annual family calendar. It is a photo montage of the year in the life of me and the kids, and the dog and the horses. I usually get a couple extra so that I can send out as Christmas presents to the immediate family. For me, most of my Christmas shopping is done. Started early because of the whole supply chain delays.

Several weeks before Christmas, and just like that, it will be another year at work has past. I need to figure out that whole retirement thing and get on with it.

School will soon be over for the kids. It is still not normal either. Everybody wears masks. Everybody is vaccinated, and I have had my booster. And yet it is still there. The e-mail about the COVID case at school. The need for testing as you have the symptoms of the common cold. Influenza is making the rounds this 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
the week in review

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.

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
the week in review

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…

Categories
the week in review

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.

Categories
the week in review

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…

Categories
the week in review

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.