Categories
the week in review

Smokey or smoky

Well last week I wrote about the start of fire season and the fact that we were engulfed with the smoke from the Cerro Pelado fire, which started and was burning about 20 miles from us. As I left the house this morning to go to the monthly Cowboy Breakfast, the air was full of smoke and the ability to see the mountains was difficult because of the haze created by the smoke.

The smell of burnt wood was all around.

It was certainly smoky outside. After breakfast I returned home and started to prepare this weeks ramblings. Upon reviewing what I posted last week, there it was in front of me. I used the word smokey, spelled with an E, to describe what I just wrote above, which I wrote without the E. And so I wondered, what is the correct spelling or word usage? What is the correct term that I should be using?

Know I know that I am not the greatest linguist in the world. I will sometimes read my postings, especially those early on, and wonder who is the illiterate writing this. Should I go back and correct my bad English and spelling? I am constantly telling my children how it is important to learn to spell words correctly, to use words correctly in a sentence, and to be able to speak coherently. For them it is a work in progress. But for me, if I have problems, I just say that it is the CF in me. CF stands for Country Fu$&. Trying to use humor to correct my inability to speak correctly!

And so I scoured the internet in search of the correct spelling, the correct use for the word smoky, or smokey. I guess that I am not the only one who has opined about this difference in word spelling in the English language.

As an example, https://writingexplained.org/smokey-or-smoky-difference

commented on this very matter. In last weeks post I used the wrong spelling, which I corrected above for this weeks posting. I will have to check back to the website denoted above because it looks like there are lots of great words that have different spellings that people use interchangeably, and probably use them incorrectly, just as I did.

But this wasn’t the only place that wrote about the musings of smoky versus smokey. I also cam across https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/smokey-or-smoky. The Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) also wrote about the difference as fall fell into the western United States in September 2019. Looks like she offers lots of tips on how to write better and to project the proper use of English in speaking. I bookmarked her pages for a future visit since I find myself trying to improve my knowledge, skills and abilities. Finally, not to be outdone and not to add to the confusion, but Smokey the Bear (https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/exhibits/show/smokey-bear) is where the proper noun comes from.

Where was I, Aah yes…It is very smoky outside at this moment because of shifting winds and warming temperatures. The Cerro Pelado fire has doubled in size in a week but is still about 15 to 20 miles from Los Alamos. They have several crews working on it and the other dozen or so fires that are burning in the state at present. A concise update of several of the fires can be found at https://www.npr.org/2022/05/01/1095812382/new-mexico-wildfire-updates

Sadly, just think of all of the air pollution that could have been not created if our government did a much better job at prevention of the fires in the first place. Granted, we are in a drought , and have been that way for a number of seasons in the southwest. Water, that which is very important to humans, has been slowly becoming less and less in the southwest over the past couple of decades. Less snow in the winter. Less rain in the summer. Monsoon season has clearly dried up over the past number of years as I have lived in New Mexico.

New Mexico and other areas across the Southwest U.S. are affected by the North American Monsoon System, as the “Monsoon Season” is designated by the period lasting from June 15th through September 30th. With the onset of the Monsoon, New Mexico is typically impacted by a variety of weather hazards that can often put the population at risk for serious injury or death. Thunderstorm frequency increases during this period, while exceptionally hot days are common as well.  See the pages https://www.weather.gov/abq/prepawaremonsoonhome to become aware of the life-threatening weather hazards that affect New Mexico during the Summer Monsoon.

Not much else to comment on under the category “the week in review”. Kids are still in school. My daughter went to the prom this weekend. Gosh I feel old! Jewel is lying on the sofa next to me while I writ this post. Yesterday was the first day in weeks that I took her for a walk. We went to the vet a few weeks ago after she started limping and favoring her hind leg. And after a few week of rest, she still favors it but doesn’t appear to be in pain. I am guessing that we will have to make a return trip so as to get some x-rays to see what is really troubling her.

As for me, aside from work, I had to fix a broken fence at the stables yesterday. Ruby decided to kick the wood and essentially broke the 2 x 6 rail (photo below on the left). I was able to replace the lower rail after an hour (photo below on the right). As I get older, I notice that it gets harder to move, and as I try to do work such as this, the body aches more and more.

Needless to say, Ruby and Roman enjoyed my company, as I was able to give them horse cookies while I was there.

Ruby and Roman watching me clean up after fixing the fence. I am pretty sure that they are just looking for more cookies.

Much going on in the news over the past week. I found it very disturbing that Russia is still bombing the Ukraine. China appears to be taking their side, and yet is forging new ties with Iran. The world continues to drift towards two sides, separated by different ideologies. A separation which will only result in a death and destruction. The world remains an evil place, and I am afraid that the dogs of war are howling as time marches onward. I hope that I am wrong but I believe that I am not. The Russian leadership use the n-word, as in nuclear war and use of nuclear weapons, as if we are to shutter in fear at the mere mentioning of them. We should because neither side will gain from such an exchange. Since Russia and the United States have about 7,000 weapons pointed at each other, I think that the global annihilation of mankind is assured. And yes, China, England, France and a few other countries have about 1000 weapons as will certainly add to the destruction of planet earth.

Closer to home, the American economy if drifting towards recession, caused by inflation and supply chain issues. Yet our government fails to see the problem and relies on printing more money to solve our economic ills. I think that it is the inflation factor that still keeps me working. I was a teenager in the 70’s, when the misery index exceeded 18%. I saw my parents loose their jobs and the ills that inflation reeks on the family.

I have noticed of late that when I go out to eat, or go to the store, that I have to wait longer for service. And while the wait is longer, the service is not as good and the cost of goods and services is increasing without any restraint. Depending on where I go, a 20 oz cup of coffee is around 3 dollars, the breakfast burrito is about 7 dollars. And my splurge purchase, a Jack and Ginger was 12 dollars. Gasoline is holding at $4.29 a gallon but milk is almost 3 dollars a gallon. I went to get stamps last weekend and a roll of stamps was 58 dollars.

Yes, I still write checks to pay my bills. While you can do everything over the internet these days, you get hacked and then it is weeks, if not longer, to recover from the hack. I log onto the computer and they are always trying to save my passwords. Save my passwords on the computer. What happens when that website or that service gets hacked. No thanks, I still do it the old fashioned way. I write it down on a piece of paper that goes into a notebook.

Clearly, if I have to evacuate because of a raging fire, that notebook is at the top of my list of things to take with me. Until next time.

Categories
the week in review

Wind…and the start of fire season

The air in New Mexico this past week was cloudy and smokey. There was a large forest fire burning in Arizona. We have experienced that before with the fire in one state, even as far west as California, causing poor air quality hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.

And there were fires burning in New Mexico. Last weeks post mentioned a couple of the fires burning in the state. We have fires to the east of us. Fires to the South of us. And now, a fire close to us. About 20 miles away. This one started on Earth Day…April 22, 2022. They named it Cerro Pelado. Daughter pointed it out to me when she texted this photo from the stables, where she was feeding Ruby and Roman.

Daughter texted me this photo about 4:30 looking towards the southwest. It was about that time that a alert went out stating that route 4 into the Jemez Mountains had been closed.

In 24 hours, it has grown from 50+ acres to over 4600 acres. We haven’t had rain in the area for months. We have been in a drought for years now. And the snow pack is far less than desired, as the hot weather over the past few weeks has melted most of what had collected at the higher elevations. To make things worse, it has been very windy, with daily winds above 20, sometimes gusting to 30, 40, 50 miles per hour for the past few weeks.

At this moment, there are almost a dozen fires burning across New Mexico. For all, the cause of the fire is under investigation. The prognosis is that it will be a hot, and dry, and dangerous summer.

An image showing the fire outlook in New Mexico and Colorado. Copied from https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/04/21/extremely-critical-fire-weather-expected-friday-in-portions-of-new-mexico-and-colorado/.

Both kids were much younger when we had to evacuate Los Alamos due to the Las Conchas Fire in 2011. What I remember from that fire was tying my daughter’s riding horse “Spirit” onto the roof of the car because we had to save all of the animals. That fire burned over 150,000 acres. The family had evacuated for about a week to Albuquerque.

It was 11 years earlier that the Cerro Grande fire burned over 120,000 acres and caused about $1 billion dollars in damage. Some interesting discussion about the two fires and Los Alamos at https://forestpolicypub.com/2012/10/06/cerro-grande-post-fire-photos/. In addition, I posted a discussion about Cerro Grande previously at https://themckeespot.com/2020/05/13/anniversaries-of-sorts/.

With the onset of this latest forest fire, one begins to look around the house and think about what stays and what goes if the order to evacuate is received. Lots of stuff. Lots of junk. Lots of memories. Lots of pictures taken in case the house is burned down and you file a claim with your homeowners insurance.

One hopes that sufficient notice is provided should a mandatory evacuation order be given.

Of course, its an added complication when one has to evacuate the animals. No longer can I tie the horse to the roof of the car. Now room for these two…

Checking on Roman and Ruby on April 22, 2022. This photo was taken several hours before the photo above of the latest fire. It was a very windy day and so I was concerned about the barns and the horses as the winds gusted from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

So arrangements have been made that if the evacuation order is given, we will load the horses up and take them to stables south of Santa Fe. That means hitching up the trailer, loading the horses, grabbing some bales of hay and riding stuff. In addition, the dogs, and prized possessions of the kids, valuables and other stuff. So long as there is room.

Sadly, I do not know what I would do about the fish. Fill a smaller aquarium and throw it in the back of the car?

Welcome to the start of summer 2022. It has only been spring for about a month. Should be another interesting time.

Categories
Family

Happy Easter…where have the past two months gone! Much to report.

OMG it is Easter. No colored eggs, no chocolate’s or bunny paws around the house. Not even reservations for brunch. I did sleep in till 6 this morning, went to feed the horses and get some coffee at the local gas station. No Starbucks for me today.

It’s been a little over two months since my last post. Lots going on in the world. Russia decided to attack the Ukraine. I think Putin is trying to use war to restore Russia’s prominence in modern times. I think he is just wasting time. Biden is still running the US into ruin with the misery index at 12% (and rising). Worst president in American history. He should be impeached for his lack of action on the southern border alone! Hopefully come November, we can fix his sorry ass to a single term and get our country out of the ditch it finds itself in. Never heard so many lies coming from an administration that supports America last. The New York Times wants to end our beliefs in God. I am not a religious person but God does more than politicians do to help mankind. Sorry NYT, but there is more truth in the pages of the Old Testament as opposed to your Sunday edition. Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter to save free speech. I am pretty sure that the marshmallow and snowflake crowd will not support this because they do not like speech that while it is the truth, is considered vial and hateful. It is time the the participation trophy generation grow up.

With the COVID pandemic reduced to a reoccurring illness much like the flu, I think we are returning to a new sense of normal. The economy appears to be running even with inflation. The new normal is that there are plenty of job opportunities. Wait, are we not raising interest rates, inflation is near all time highs and economists are predicting a recession!

What do I mean by a new sense of normal. Well today we spend more time in lines waiting for service. I have spent more time in lines waiting for picking up a prescription, getting money from a bank teller, fast food, or getting in to see the doctor. This is the future America. Longer lines, and longer waits. We will no longer be separated by differences between the rich versus the poor. The rich will just end up paying more to not wait. As for the rest of us, bring a book as the lines and the waits will be longer in the future. I expect many more positions will be replaced by automation, or services to do your daily things. However, is it just me or has the postal service improved in terms of delivery. Amazon Prime and next day delivery is something that I have yet to experience!

As spring comes to New Mexico, we are reminded of high winds and the start of fire season. Ruidoso, a small town in the southern part of the state, lies in the mountains (much like Los Alamos), and yet has already experienced several deaths, houses and acreage burned with the first forest fire in the state, Or is it the second as fire burn east of Santa Fe (west of Las Vegas) in the Hermit’s Peak area of Santa Fe National Forest?

For me, these fires are the result of a lack of proper forest management. Sorry, but a controlled burn is not proper forest management. I remember Cerro Grande! We should be going into these area, reducing the brush and trees, actually using annual cutting of areas to manage the thickness of the forest and using the proceeds from selling the wood to defer the costs.

Closer to home, I continue to work. That said, I see that I am fairly certain that unless things change for the better, I will not be working much longer. The management team at Los Alamos is the most disingenuous of teams that I have ever experienced. They need to be replaced. Do not see that happening and so maybe it is time for me to call it a career and finally move on to the next stage of my life.

Our beloved dog Jewel may have a torn ACL. Earlier this week, she started limping and favoring her right hind leg. Upon closer inspection, it did not appear to be causing her too much pain and so I finally made our belated annual visit, Overall she is fine, put on a few COVID pounds (or is it table scraps), and is confined to rest for a few weeks to see if that doesn’t improve things. Otherwise we return for x-rays and probably surgery in a few weeks.

Jewel waiting for the Vet to check her out.

Better start saving my pennies because I am guessing that orthopedic surgery for a dog isn’t cheap.

Speaking of saving pennies and inflation, I have seen it in several examples of late. My family container of Oreo’s went up in price and there are less cookies. It is clear that my pizza, whether it is Domino’s or Papa Murphy’s, is using less ingredients. And I swear that the size of a medium or large is shrinking. And the Domino’s delivery charge went up. But my best example of inflation is with Banquet chicken.

I love fried chicken.

The box of frozen chicken was the usual amount, at $8.49 a box. However, I was surprised to open it up and remove only four pieces of chicken, not the usual six, seven, or eight. I previously wrote about inflation on October 6, 2019 and there commented on oreo’s, ritz crackers and a few other things. At least the chicken pieces were the same size. But if I was complaining about inflation in 2019 when Trump was President, just think how bad it is under Biden.

Not sure which is cheaper, hay for the horses or Doritos?

No, I didn’t feed Roman Doritos. But it certainly looks like he is interested. Recently we had to get delivery of hay for the horses. With the price of gasoline and diesel increasing, the cost of hay will certainly increase. I was able to get a nice mix of Timothy/Brome from Northern New Mexico (second cutting) delivered. Our normal deliveries from Southern Colorado, also Timothy/Brome, do not start until July. With two horses we are eating more and were running very low. I am glad that I was able to get a delivery. And the horses appear to enjoy it and do not notice a big difference.

Ruby and Roman this Easter morning before feeding. A beautiful spring day in New Mexico.

But it has been very windy and I have had to make some emergency repairs to the roof on the barn. Hopefully they will hold until I can make permanent and replace some rotted wood. This time, I think we can apply some paint to the wood instead of just letting it weather naturally. More work for me and son to tackle as spring turns into summer. Between the roof, the deck, the barns and the fence; I probably will need to work throughout the summer to pay the bills.

Son and daughter waiting for Dinner one afternoon at Denny’s. Today’s kids are glued to their iPhone’s and mine are no different.

The kids had late March/early April off for spring break. Daughter went to check out some colleges in Colorado. That prospect alone should make me think that I need to continue working for at least several more years. Son spent the week home with me as I worked and he played video games. He just wanted to rest from school. I am sure that he is anxious for the COVID years to become a memory, albeit a bad memory! However, we did sneak away to Albuquerque for a day to enjoy all the big city has to offer.

Son and I managed to get away for a day during spring break where we spend several hours at Dave and Buster’s for lunch and arcade games.

Daughter is growing up too fast. Yesterday it was driving lessons. Today it is the prom. Son is finishing up middle school; not sure what the summer will bring. As for me, I managed a return to normal by spending a recent afternoon in Santa Fe dinning at Red Lobster. When I first got to New Mexico, it was a monthly ritual that I looked forward to. With the kids, not so much. Still tastes good and something to look forward to in the years and decades ahead.

Returning to normal. I made it to Red Lobster. Yes…seafood in the Southwest.

And saving the best for last. I am looking froward to seeing Pearl Jam sometime this summer. While it has been about 8 months since Sea Hear Now 2021 in Asbury Park, NJ. It will be good to hit the road to explore some new place over a long weekend. There I will get to enjoy great music, take in some sights and sounds, enjoy food and rest from the hustle and bustle of life.

And saving the best for last. Pearl Jam will kick off a North American tour in early May and I have tickets for one…and maybe four shows.

I am still contemplating a return to Sear Hear Now 2022, where Green Day and Stevie Nicks are scheduled to appear. Until next time. It is mid April. I will turn 61 soon and so I want to wish all of my friends, relatives and colleagues (Scott, John, cousin Mike, and Jim…Happy Birthday).

Categories
the week in review

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Greetings to everyone from cloudy and cold Los Alamos New Mexico. It is a cold Sunday. Earlier this week we managed to see single digit temperatures and over 8 inches of snow. The winter weather caused me to work from home for two days while road crews, work crews and whomever else had to do whatever they do in order to make roads and parking lots usable.

When I awoke last Wednesday morning at my usual time, work was on a delay and it was snowing outside. Only about 4 inches had fallen by 3 am, but it was windy and the temperature was below zero with the wind chill. Needless to say, Jewel and I had to venture out to check on the weather.

Jewel and I venture out in the cold and blowing snow

Often what I do is post pictures from these walks on Facebook so friends and coworkers who are driving from afar to work can gauge the travel conditions. Didn’t see any snow plows on our walk but there were cars. Because it was very cold, and the snow was very fine, Jewel and I were unable to finish our normal loop, as it was freezing and bothering her paws.

Looking west down Trinity Drive during the snowstorm
of February 2, 2022 at 5 am.

By 6 am, it was still snowing and the wind was still blowing and the temperature was still below zero. The powers that be canceled work, or at least closed the lab for the day. Ditto with school. However, if one could telework, one should telework. The fact is that COVID has ended the snow day. If you can work from home, one can telework. If you cannot access work or do work via computer, then it is report pay. This is what we would historically call a snow day. BUT, if you could telework but didn’t want to telework, well then, that is called vacation! The kids don’t teleschool and so they just do homework on their computers, if they are not watching YouTube or playing computer video games.

I have previously mentioned that I do not like to work from home. I need to keep that separation. Well I managed to telework for about half of the day and then took the other half as vacation. Telework cuts into my productivity significantly. If it isn’t the fact that the computer connection is bad, I typically do not have certain files available, or data printed out and at my fingertips. Between the cell phone and the internet, one can work from just about anywhere.

Anyway, the snow continued to fall. I think that I posted numerous updates on my Facebook page as the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing. Had to shovel the walk three, maybe four times throughout the day. By the evening, it was announced that school was cancelled for the second day, and the same was true with work. Yet I had too much to do and so on Thursday, February 3rd, I was working from home the entire day.

Thursday morning rolled around and after several hours of working from home, I ventured out to survey the damage. You see, if you get up early, work starts early. One doesn’t have to shower, or for that matter, get dressed. All you need is the internet, your computer, and of course, coffee. By that time I ventured out, the sun was just starting to come up. The wind was still blowing and it had stopped snowing. I measured 8 inches on the back porch. So Jewel and I took a drive to get a breakfast burrito.

Looking east driving down Trinity
Looking west driving down Trinity

In general, the roads were snow packed and icy in some spots. Side streets and many parking lots were covered in snow. Some traffic, especially at the McDonald’s drive thru was out and about as well. Chile Works, where I typically get my burrito, was not very busy. Nonetheless, my burrito certainly hit the spot. And since I typically get mine with green chile, Jewel just has to sit and watch me eat.

And the kids had no school for a second day. Of course, daughter had to go to the stables to feed Roman and Ruby. As it was still single digits outside and the wind was still blowing, one had to check and make sure that they were fine. Daughter let me know that I needed to buy our stable neighbor a bottle of whiskey. He had managed to plow the stable roads long before the county ventured out to do the same.

Daughter letting Ruby try on her winter wolf hat.
Of course, daughter needs to see if Roman likes the hat as well.

We finally received our first real snowfall of the year. We can certainly use the snow. I hope that we get more so as to reduce the drought conditions in the state, and for much of the Southwest. In my 31 years here, we have seen snow as early as October and as later as June.

I am sure that the ski hill was very popular as it was able to open. It is only 10 minutes from town. Of course Jewel does not like the deep snow and so she leaves me presents on the deck. No photographs here.

And so, by Friday, life returned to normal. The roads were plowed completely, and parking lots could accommodate both vehicles and massive piles of snow. I went to work at my usual time. Jewel was glad to rest while I was at work. The sun was out, and the snow was beginning to melt. As I get older, I find myself enjoying the cold and wind and snow less and less.

With that, until next time.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

There are less than 20 shopping days left until Christmas…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
ramblings of a madman

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
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
Family

RoadTrip…day 2

The first full day in Flagstaff. We dropped daughter and mother off where the horse has been put up for the weekend. Son and I then embarked on a 90 minute detour north to check out one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon.

When son walked up to the edge, he looked out and said “amazing “. He stood there in silence for a several minutes, admiring the natural beauty and sheer size of it. It was not what he expected.

We walked around the canyon rim for about an hour. Checked out two gift shops, and then hopped back in the car to return to Flagstaff. Today was the teaching portion of Coconino. It’s where the contestants get to pay to practice dressage, show jumping, and get the opportunity to walk the cross country course.

We got back in time for daughter to bath the horse. As you can see, daughter is telling stories to the other riders who are there washing their horses as well. I wonder what drives so many little girls to ride horses. There are literally a hundred plus competitors here. I only say maybe three male competitors.

After bathing Ruby, it was time to dry the horse and hope that she stays clean until tomorrow.

For daughter, it’s quiet time to get mentally prepared for the competition. After getting the horses tucked into their stalls for the evening, fed, and general getting ready, there was a stable social hour. I was admiring the truck and trailer rig that sponsor had. A heavy duty Ford 350 and a trailer that could hold four horses and a complete camper. Impressive. First class. Then for us it was back to the hotel, dinner and an early bed. Until tomorrow.