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.

Rolling Thunder Revue. A review

Rolling Thunder Revue is a movie? A documentary? It is a look back in time of Bob Dylan and friends during a concert tour by Martin Scorsese. It is currently on a Netflix. It is as much a movie about music from a Dylan tour as it is about a period of time in this country. In 1975 and again in 1976, Dylan is accompanied by a number of musicians in a series of shows throughout the United States and Canada. The movie shows actual performance clips from the tour, along with interviews from many of the actual performers and participants of the show, then and now. The movie is intertwined with stories of the period.

I was first introduced to the music of Bob Dylan in college in 1979. A senior in my dorm my freshman year, who went by the name of Commander Nichols was a big Dylan fan. Up until that time, my music interest included the Clash, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Rush. I often characterize periods in my life by the music that I listen to. In 1976, it was the summer of Frampton Comes Alive. By 1979, it was the Clash and London Calling, competing with Rush and Hemispheres. My first

concert was on the Hemisphere’s Tour. Supper Bowl weekend in Pittsburgh. Of course the Steelers were in the big game. I was in high school, and well that trip, I can save for a future posting.

And Commander Nichols was also the person who introduced me to Neil Young. It only took me 32 years to see Neil Young in concert. Yet I digress. Back to Bob Dylan.

As with all rockumentaries, the clips of music are intertwined with interviews from the performers, friends, and fans. In the case of this movie, we have Bob Dylan, then and now. There were some really great musicians who performed in the Rolling Thunder Review. They included Joni Mitchel, Joan Baez, Ramblin Jack Elliot. Poetry by Allen Ginsberg. The band that backed up the musicians was really good. They had their own stories that was interesting. The story behind Dylan’s kabuki masks during the tour was tied to Dylan visiting the band KISS. Why? Simply because the young violinist touring with Dylan was dating one of the band members in KISS. As I see the irony, Rush toured with KISS. I have seen Rush five times in concert. Somehow all things are interconnected. But again I digress. I watch these movies for the music. It definitely needed more music and less story telling.

Some of the movie dealt with Rubin Carter and the “story of the Hurricane”. Hurricane is a great Dylan song from the album Desire, released in 1976. Still other songs come from my favorite Dylan album, which is Blood on the Tracks, released in 1974. Of course there were some of the usual Dylan tunes, especially, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, and Mr Tambourine Man. I haven’t bought a Dylan album/CD in years but I understand that one of the recently released bootleg albums has outtakes from the Rolling Thunder Revue.

The concert performances are great. Some of the stories of the times were interesting. I particularly liked the time when Dylan and Ginsberg visited the grave of Jack Kerouac. There they are filmed reading some lines from Kerouac’s book “On the Road”, and they sing some songs and discuss their experiences from Kérouac. I thought this clip clearly identified with the period. I thought it interesting that the tour traveled from city to city on buses, yet Dylan drove a motor home. There were some interviews with politicians, Jimmy Carter and others, that I thought didn’t add much value to the story. We don’t learn much about Dylan during this time, but it is clear to me that he just enjoyed playing music with his friends, both in a concert hall, and in other avenues.

So in the end, we have a snapshot of the time during a Bob Dylan tour. We don’t learn much about the music, except for Hurricane. The snippets of music are intertwined in the stories, not the other way around. Bob Dylan said that he didn’t remember much of the tour, but he was able to tell some detailed stories about the people and such. He said that there was nothing left from the tour, yet we know that there are tracks of the music and videos from the tour. EBay has some original posters and tickets from the tour for sale. As for me, I’d like to get the hat.

The mundane happenings of life

Yesterday I managed to leave work early and stop to pick up my new glasses. I have been without glasses for close to two weeks now. The trouble with my glasses started several months ago when Jewel somehow got my pair off the table one morning before I left for work and completely destroyed them. Plastic lenses and plastic frames were chewed into pieces. So I had to put my back up pair into service and the arranged to get a new fitting. My back up pair was my prescription from about 6 years ago. It had been several years since I was last at the eye doctor, and so it was long overdue.

Well that lasted about a week when Jewel somehow got this pair of glasses and managed to chew the frame. Scotch tape to the rescue. Yes I was really the geeky nerd and endured this for several months. Between travel and other distractions, it took me months to finally get an appointment to get an eye examination and new glasses. Unfortunately, I also made the appointment for son, who was also have vision trouble at school. Yet here it was in the middle of summer before he finally admitted to having problems.

Driving was ok because I had my prescription sunglasses to wear. Didn’t work too well at night but that was manageable. By then the scotch tape was too much. Lost the screws that held the frame together and had to resort to crazy glue. That too wasn’t enough. Supper nerd needed to see the eye doctor.

Yesterday I managed to get my new glasses. Skipped the bifocals this time. I really just need them for distance because I have become accustomed to read or work on the computer without wearing them.

I guess Jewel likes them too. Now I put them in a place where she cannot reach them.

We found ourselves inside on a Friday night. Watched some tv, which was more enjoyable with the new glasses. Didn’t really do much of anything. I didn’t even cook myself a delicious meal. Maybe Saturday. It was quiet. I could have sat down and read my book but even that didn’t excite me. Clearly this weekend was going to be very different compared to last weekend. For me, I was back to normal.

Today I find myself without the kids. It is just me and the dog. This Saturday morning started out well. I got up early and managed to get to the stable around 7 am. Stopped at Morning Glory Bakery for large coffee and two glazed doughnuts. Would have probably gotten a burrito but they were busy and they didn’t have my favorite: sausage green with cheese. Cold have gone elsewhere for a burrito but the doughnuts will be enough to keep me moving. Not to feed the horse. Rather, my task was to cut the grass and weeds around the stable.

Aside from that I needed to do some clean up around the stables because next weekend will be our first hay delivery for the year. For cutting the weeds, the old manual push mower just wasn’t working out. Tried sharpening the blade multiple times. Managed to cover the same path multiple times trying to cut the grass and weeds. While it was exercise, and I would cover a few thousand steps, it was never without difficulty. I needed power.

I bought a new mower to accomplish the task. I may have destroyed a new mower while mowing. At one point, I was mowing and must have hit metal. It immediately stopped. Looked underneath the mower to see wire wrapped around the blade and half of the blade bent. Removed the wire and resumed mowing. But it was now struggling to cut the weeds. After much starting and stopping, I somehow managed to stop and again, catch wire in the blade. This time I was mowing the back of the lot. After I managed to remove the wrapped metal wire, I figured that it was time to call it a day. Packed up and went home.

Of course, I had Jewel with me the entire time. I had her tied up at the front of the stable while I was cutting grass in the back. She had water, but it was hot and the day was warming up. By 10 am, we called it quits.

The morning sky started to show some nice white puffy clouds over the mountains as we drove home. By the time I got the car unloaded, it was lunch time and I was certainly hot and tired from mowing. Clean up may just have to wait another day!

Goofed around the house in the afternoon and ran some errands. By mid afternoon, it rained and cooled things off outside.

Much of what I do happens to be mundane anymore. Normal everyday things become more and more mundane. Is it because I am getting older? Is it because I am so set in my ways that I avoid going out, trying new things. Lots to do this weekend but can’t say that it really excited me. I really am becoming more and more of an old fuddy-duddy. I need to change that. That is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Try to read more and share more, learn and seek new ideas, stimulating conversation, meet new people who write some really great things. I don’t see myself as a writer, but I have been enjoying putting things down here for all to see. In the past I have written lots of scientific papers for publishing, two dissertations, and many papers in college for various classes. Writing has long been a struggle for me, yet I see how very important it is to communicate clearly, to express ourselves. Sometime the words just come out; other times I have nothing. I try to impress this upon my kids.

Often what I write starts out completely different than the final product. I need to work on spell checking and proofing the final words before I publish. Hopefully that will improve my style, my word choice, allow me to better articulate what I write and what I post.

I need more spontaneity.

Stimulating conversation

Often when I am home alone because the kids are with their mother, I find myself talking either to myself, or to the dog. I wonder what that means?

Naturally I performed a Google search on “talking to myself or the dog”. Top of the list was an April 2019 article “Your-new-self-care-talk-to-yourself-the-way-you-talk-to-a-pet” by Haley Goldberg.

https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/your-new-self-care-talk-to-yourself-the-way-you-talk-to-a-pet/

Haley concluded that she was far nicer to her dog than to herself and thus we should talk to ourself like we talk to our pet. Haley’s Instagram page show lots of pictures with her rescued dogs. They look good and I am glad that she rescued them.

I can relate because I consider myself my own worst enemy. I don’t think that I can really talk to myself like the way I talk to Jewel. Somehow “no biting Steve, kisses” really will help me. My conversations are more about “well that’s a fine mess you got yourself in; how are you going to get out of it”? Or “ what shall I make for dinner”? Jewel’s kibble isn’t for me. For me, talking to myself helps me to analyze and to solve the problem that I am talking to myself about.

The next article in the search was a 2015 article entitled “What’s really going on when you talk to your pet” suggests that dogs can understand

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/whats-really-going-on-when-you-talk-to-your-pet

the emotions we are conveying from the tone of our voice. I can relate to that because Jewel can certainly tell when she is in trouble from the tone of my voice. So can my kids. So can my coworkers. One’s tone can convey positive and heartwarming thoughts. Conversely, anger and frustration can also be conveyed by the tone of one’s voice. The words can make it worse. And for the record, when I talk t o myself, I too can here the tone differences and how they convey emotion.

The third item in the search was a 2013 article from Psychology Today entitled “Is it crazy to talk to your dog”. It too talked about intonations

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/play-in-mind/201304/is-it-crazy-talk-your-dog

and the responses of the dog.

The Atlantic had a 2017 article entitled “Why Do Humans Talk to Animals If They Can’t Understand?” This article suggested that the tendency to converse with dogs, cats, and hamsters ultimately says more about people than it does about their pets. I now have to admit that I also talk t9 the horse, and sons hampster Jonny. Neither one ever talks back.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/08/talking-to-pets/537225/

In addition, conversations with our pets are not one-sided. They give as much as they take. This is true because when I talk to Jewel, her tale wags. When she chases her tail and I ask her if she got it, or if I hold her tale, she will chase it some more.

OK so I think we have concluded that it is ok to talk to our pets, but what about ourselves? Well, I think that is also ok, and answering ourselves is also ok. After all, or at least in my case, I can really have some questioning conversation with myself about myself. And after all, who is best to tell me about me than me.

So here I am downstairs writing this posting. My past few posts never saw the light of day. They remain draft and need work. The kids are upstairs, presumably playing computer games. Jewel is here keeping me company. And I am talking to myself as I write this. In that context, I am sounding out my sentences so I don’t really think that it consititutes talking to myself.

The Google search also produced several article feeling with the subject about talking to yourself. In general, it doesn’t appear that talking to yourself puts you into a weekly visit to a therapist. I’m sure that psychologists have debated this topic for a long time. It looks like they have concluded every that it is ok, provided it is in moderation. In general, anything and everything in moderation is fine. Two articles, one in the New York Times and the other on CNN conveyed the importance of talking to yourself. There, all is well in the world.

At any rate, I hope this article stimulates you as it did me. I had fun writing it.