TheMcKeeSpot is a blog by Steven McKee. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
It’s Sunday morning, after the first full week in which I returned to work from the the Christmas/New Years vacation. Jewel and I are spending a quiet day here at the house. Relaxing, drinking coffee. Well at least I am drinking coffee; Jewel is sitting next to me on the sofa.
It has been weeks since I last enjoyed my Sunday morning coffee cabal with my coworker. My friend left before Christmas to go to his house on Sanibel Island and now finds himself trying to return today. He is caught up in the COVID induced travel cancellations that have been pretty significant around the Christmas/New Years travel period.
COVID is significantly on the upswing in the US, with over a million new cases reported each day over the past week. The increase certainly keeps me from going out unless I need to. In Los Alamos county, COVID cases are up. Ditto at work, where we were reminded to resort to video meetings and to work at home if possible. Earlier in the week I received e-mail from both the middle school and the high school, indicating multiple students with positive tests and others identified for possible testing and quarantine by contact tracing. Important information since both schools have some importance to me in that both of my children are enrolled in each. So far, I am glad that they are continuing to push in class teaching. Both my son and daughter (and I) hated the on line stuff, and it is clear that they suffered from the video instruction. Overall, the pandemic has taken much from kids growing up over the past few years.
For some COVID cases, I understand that people have been vaccinated and still catch the virus. For others, this is a repeat infection. Either way, the virus is still with us, and will probably be around for ever. It will mutate and it will infect all of us at some point. Two points emerge from this, the 670-plus days into the pandemic. The first is that I, like many, are just fed up with the virus and how our government has handled it. Early on, it was shut down everything. It was the need for testing. Today, we still find ourselves short on testing. Shutting down the economy, not so much probably because the 15 days to slow the spread just didn’t do it. Government and employers still push masks and while I wear mine as so directed, I have to conclude that it only offers marginal protection. And while treatments exist, they are difficult to obtain, others are just now coming on-line, and others have may have been altogether discredited by the mainstream. The second is that while the vaccines offer some degree of protection, they do not make us immune. I expect as the virus mutates, it will be like the common cold or the flu and that we will be living with it for a very long time. But don’t take this as medical advice. It is just my opinion.
Today, much of the news is less about reporting events. It is more about reporting the opinion of events. I think objectivity has been lost in the modern age because of how quickly information travels and gets reported. Events can be seen real time. Stories are written and reported across multiple outlets, and the flaws, misinformation, lies, all can be shared without any evidence of truth or facts to back it up. The same story can show up in five, ten, or more newspapers, websites, twitter feeds, etc. Objectivity is now replaced with opinion.
The dictionary defines opinion as a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something : what someone thinks about a particular thing. Newspapers now have opinion sections, where experts tell the story based on their beliefs, judgement, or way of thinking. Even what I write her is my opinion, based on my thinking, beliefs, education, background, experience. Included in that is political thinking and ideology. It is important to understand as much about the person who conveys the story as part of how one understands and interprets the story itself. This is the objectivity that people need today to understand what is going on around them.
Kevin M. Lerner recently wrote an article on the online website The Conversation in June 2020 about “Journalists believe news and opinion are separate, but readers can’t tell the difference”. Lerner is Assistant Professor
of Journalism at Marist College and edits the Journal of Magazine Media. His research focuses on the intellectual history of journalism through press criticism, satire, and magazines. The basic premise of the article is that the newspapers of today have sections that report news, and tell opinion. But is difficult for today’s reader to tell the difference.
The title of today’s post is “Happy Sunday…” It is my opinion that this Sunday is a happy day. I got a good nights sleep. I awoke in a good mood. I am not angry at my surroundings for the moment. But that could change as the day goes on.
There, I just gave you my opinion of his article. But we see it in the newspaper, on TV. Whether it is the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, or CNN versus FOX News. It is everywhere. Now more than ever, objectivity is needed as the world becomes a more troubling place. Russia looks poised to invade the Ukraine. China looks like it will use force to take over Taiwan. The Middle East continues to be in constant turmoil. And in the USA, the media continues to push the January 6 coup. The left hijacks the story line as an attempt to overthrow the government while the right pushes it as political protest.
We could write more about all of these political situations but I will save that for another time. Several things are still clear. It is Sunday. I am still happy. But I need more coffee. Until next time, be safe, enjoy reading TheMcKeeSpot and come back often. Drop a note if you like or dislike what you see here. I enjoy reading new things and conversing with new people.
Here it is, January 2022. Another year older as I approach my 61st year on Planet Earth. I didn’t make any New Years resolutions. In the past, I would make resolutions in the new year but always found that it didn’t help and I didn’t keep any of them after a few weeks anyway. And when I would make a resolution, it was always the same. Lose weight. Exercise more. Strive to be better, or to be more outgoing. Relax and smell the roses, or whatever else I think might work to change my being.
I don’t think this year will be any different…
We started the new year with several inches of snow. I can remember years where we have had more and I can remember years where we have had less. This morning, I awoke to a tad more snow and single degree temperatures outside. It certainly has been a few years since I can last remember it being that cold outside.
It has been a very relaxing week off. I didn’t do a thing related with work. I completely unplugged. Didn’t think about it very much. Didn’t log in to check e-mail. Didn’t check my phone for messages as I pretty much turned it off for the week.
And now tomorrow, the rat race resumes. It will be 2022. A new year that will be more of the same.
Spent the past week watching football games, reading, caught an occasional new show on Netflix. Managed to pound out a few more pages in Atlas Shrugged. Managed to review my investments and planned for the next week, month, year, decade and century. More of the same. Steady as she goes.
The other day I found myself listening to some old Bob Dylan tunes. By old, I mean the stuff that constitutes his first five albums. I was inspired to do that because I had just finished watching the Martin Scorsese picture “No Direction Home”. I always try to understand the lyrics. What do they mean? I even dusted off my copy of “Bob Dylan. The Story Behind Every Track. All the Songs”. A rather heavy book, comprising over 700 pages, hardbound, that I bought myself as a Christmas present an number of years ago for my coffee table. It now sits on the bookcase.
I guess I do things like that to keep the mind active. Didn’t come up with any new revelations but it was an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
I just left Jewel out. It’s 15 degrees outside and there is snow on the ground, including the back deck. What does this mean…she will quickly go outside and do her business on the deck and immediately want in. Doesn’t like the snow and the cold weather. I cannot blame her. Texted daughter to check in and see how Roman and Ruby are this cold morning. Last night was cold and windy. No wind now and the sun is out.
Haven’t seen much of the kids since Christmas eve. For them, school resumes January 5. Just checked and thus far, the spike in COVID cases hasn’t changed the resumption of in school learning. That said, I am troubled by the bold statement “…it is more important than ever to keep your children home if they are sick, have a fever, or show any symptoms of COVID…All absences will be excused…” Odd since we followed that requirement last semester and received a letter from the school district regarding son and him being out with unexcused absences. In today’s world, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I really hope that this year we downgrade the pandemic of COVID to something that allows us to return to normal. Unfortunately, it has become too politicized and another talking point that divides us as a country.
I am saddened by the fires in Colorado. Parts of places that I visited 10 to 20 years ago have been burned. A small fire by today’s standard (< 10,000 acres), but almost 1000 homes destroyed in urban areas. Between the high winds and how dry it was in Colorado, in December. But with winds in excess of 90 mph, glowing embers will spread and I guess anything can catch fire under those forces of Mother Nature. I have twice evacuated my home because of wildfires. I have seen the destruction, but have never experienced it. I was glad to see that the fire was miles away from the Rocky Flats site.
Most of the Christmas decorations have been taken down and put away. The ones that remain are outside. Buried in the snow. Looks like the wind is picking up. I will get to those soon. The dining room table is still clear of clutter. As for the rest of the house, not so much. Guess that is something that I can work on this year.
I noticed that for calendar year 2021 that I posted only 15 times, down from 20 in 2020. and that I had 184 visitors in 2021. So I guess that I can strive to do better. The trend over the last three years has been to the downside, both in terms of posts, visits and visitors. So maybe that can be my resolution for the new year, strive to post more often. Maybe I need to work on the content. More pictures? Write around a theme?
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.
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…
I got to see some old friends…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Saturday. I am up early for the weekend, up as if it was any other day and I was getting ready to go to work. In reviewing my personal e-mails today, I discovered the need to renewal my subscription to WordPress in order to maintain my domain and this blog. Then just like that, “ding”! My phone had a message from my credit card company indicating that the auto payment to renew my WordPress subscription and domain had been denied. Like magic. Modern technology, for all the good and the bad, is connected. Me and the world.
All this means is that it has been two years since I set up my plan and site. When I enrolled in April 2019 I had no idea where this experiment was going to take me. To explore this new found medium, I set up my domain as a business account. I guess that I was thinking that perhaps I would set up some type of business around TheMcKeeSpot domain. Something to keep me busy over the next 50 years. Maybe I would sell stuff and perhaps recover my investment.
To renew, or not to renew, that is the question…
I remember when my kids were younger. They talked about setting up their own YouTube channels and become overnight “gazillionaires”. Daughter would emphasize horses; son would be a video game superstar. I of course had more modest ideas for all. They are tech savvy. For me, it just goes over my head.
Oh to be young again and to dream…
Ruby and I had uneventful birthdays. My daughter tells me that Ruby is 15. Alas, I wish I was 15 but I will have to settle for 60. That makes me 4 in Ruby years…For her special day, Ruby enjoyed dehydrated kiwi fruit. Willow doesn’t like kiwi but was fine with dehydrated banana chips to help in the celebration. I had sea scallops from a local restaurant. I took off from work to allow for a four-day weekend of sorts. Nothing planned in terms of festivities for my self and the kids outside of dinner together the night of my birthday. They had homework.
I really didn’t do anything special for surviving another decade, or is it starting a new decade? Spent money. Reviewed all of the birthday wishes from friends old and new on Facebook. Went to Santa Fe and shopped at some stores. I was able to score on ammo for my guns. They are usually out but if they have it, you are limited in what you can purchase. Spent an hour perusing a bookstore. Bought a biography on Ulysses S. Grant. Should be a good read as I add it to the pile of four other books that I have in the queue. And to those of you who frequently visit TheMcKeeSpot, yes, I am still working on Atlas Shrugged. See my post from May 28, 2019 entitled “Reading is Fundamental” for the appropriate background. But at least I have gotten passed the pages where in my two previous attempts to read this book I gave up.
So, two years later, I have no business plan. I have not set up the site to sell anything. I have renewed the domain for another two years. Aside from the time that I spend writing, which hasn’t been much over the past two years, and a few hundred dollars to maintain the internet domain and infrastructure. Now I just need to write more often, to expand upon the subjects that I write about and see where it takes us.
Until next time, stay safe, feel free to read and comment.
A little snow fell this morning. Nothing too significant other than covering the roads, trees, the car, sidewalks. It is cold and wet outside.
Happy Monday! It is that final week of 2020. The period between Christmas and New Years. As has been this period over the past 50-plus years (work, graduate school, college, etc), I have the week off. The lab is closed and I am home adjusting to a week without work, or not working from home this week. Unfortunately, travel is limited due to the pandemic. In general it is a weird week on the calendar, which has been discussed and commented on before. In searching the internet, I think this image best sums it up in my humble opinion…
Let’s face facts, the year 2020 just sucked. Here is hoping that 2021 is better. Plenty of memes out there talking about how bad this year was. Of course, many are spun off into signs, pictures, even t-shirts that you can purchase. Guess capitalism is alive and well. As long as you can make it, market it and such, someone may want to buy it.
Since my last post, I had identified many topics to write about. Not sure if we will cover all of them, but we do have several days until 2021. We can lament about the year later. We can critique my ramblings for the year much later.
Let’s start with McDonald’s, who brought back the McRib sandwich to help us through the end of this year. Why is the McRib so craveable? Start with seasoned boneless pork dipped in a tangy BBQ sauce, topped with slivered onions and dill pickles, all served on a toasted homestyle bun. When everything combines you have BBQ pork sandwich perfection. It’s only here for a limited time so don’t miss out. The previous words are straight from the McDonald’s website. I like how the adjectives just jump off the page. I can truly taste how delicious it is as I write about it here.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the McRib sandwich. When it is out, I usually defer my Big Mac order, or my Quarter Pounder Deluxe order so I can have the McRib. Not my kids though, they have the usual, a Triple Cheeseburger with only ketchup. Do I see a trip for lunch in order?
Ah yes, which brings me to the kids and Christmas. Put the tree up a few weeks ago, stockings hung above the fireplace. A wreath on the door. I had great plans since I was to have them Christmas Eve, stay the night and here Christmas day. And in typical fashion, the best laid plans get ruined by the ex. The kids and I managed a couple hours on Christmas Eve. Had to rush the dinner and such. Take them back and then a few hours on Christmas Day. Still, it was good to have them, even if it was not what I had planned, or even less than what is required. They say that divorce is hard on the kids, yet I think it is harder on me. This too shall pass. I jump to my happy place and all is well.
Anyway, the kids came, we opened gifts, then we enjoyed our time together, playing with or working on the gifts received. Calling or texting with relatives and such. Truth be told I was never that much excited about Christmas since the late 70’s and my excitement wanes every year. Every year I think that I am becoming more like Mr Scrooge, or the Grinch. My preference is the Grinch because he at least has his dog Max to keep him company. It’s this time of year that I break out my Grinch coffee mug at work, giving the Dilbert mug a break. Clearly I am a curmudgeon as time passes on. Bah Humbug! That said, I have much to be thankful for this year. I probably have much to be thankful for every year. And I am thankful for my health and my children. That said, the kids and I did spend some time talking about those less fortunate and in need of help this time of year.
The week before Christmas was an anniversary of sorts for me. I have worked at Los Alamos for now 30 years. No fanfare, no parades, nothing of congrats from my bosses. I did get a few e-mails from former employees whom I had the opportunity to manage over the years. That was personally rewarding and brought a smile. I do not know why I expected more. I did, and was disappointed when there was nothing. Certainly gives me something to write about when I respond to my performance appraisal, as well as my performance goals for the next year.
I guess the big questions for me is whether I will have “a next year”. After all, after 30 years, I am 59 and a half (slightly more), and wonder about retirement. I wonder about it just about every day. This blog was my attempt to explore what the next 50 years has in store for me. I honestly do not know about tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the next several decades. Some coworkers say I cannot retire because I have kids who have several years of high school before they venture off to college. I expect the economy to crater soon and thus that will cause problems with savings for retirement. Too many bills to pay, too much to do. Have you even decided what you will do in retirement?
In the last post I commented that I took the car in for repairs. Well the car is fixed and now, it will not start. Thought it was a dead battery so I replaced the batter. Now it still will not star. Probably the starter motor so I have some more car repairs in the future. The car is about 18 years old and has over 189,000 miles. Yet when it runs, I still get the same gas mileage. Over the 18 years, I have put about $10,000 in repairs into it. The kids and I have many fond memories in that car so I cannot see replacing it anytime soon.
Looking outside, I can still see some snow flakes falling onto the ground. Nothing too dramatic except the forecast was for snow tomorrow. High today is in the upper 40’s, but wind will put the wind chill into the upper 30’s. But as I write this post, and words jump off this page and cause me to search the internet, I come across a meme that can sum up today’s post:
Alas, another two months has gone by since my last post. Not what I have wanted to do but I guess that time flies. I thanks those people who periodically check in. Sorry that I didn’t post something new. It’s not like I have been tied up or anything. I often have ideas on things to write about; happenings in the daily world of myself worthy to be posted on TheMcKeeSpot. Call me lazy, call me whatever. No excuses here. I had ideas that never materialized into words and a post on the blog. So let’s catch up.
Am I still in the ongoing condition that I have written about in the past, namely a Frustration and a funk? Or should I correctly differentiate between the two. Am I frustrated? Am I in a funk? Still not sure so I will say that I probably continue experiencing both situations. Need something to stimulate where I am or where I am going. Not sure but I am guessing that I will know it when I experience it. Whatever it is…
How does the reading of books go? Well last year, I continued to indicate that I was reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I can report after approximately 18 months, I am up to page 125. Over a thousand more pages to go. Over the years, I have tried reading this book.
I think this my fourth attempt. Not sure why I cannot finish it, or for that matter why I have to read it. Do I really need to find out “Who is John Galt”? Yes, Yes I do! I find it odd for someone who is not religious to have read the Bible twice, in having so much trouble trying to get through this book. I need to because Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is next on the list. Perhaps I need some discipline.
Last weekend was my weekend with the kids. Madison had a borrowed horse and was off at a competition. I planned on spending time with Dylan, playing Minecraft of perhaps starting his latest Lego set, or even helping him with his homework. Neither activity materialized because Ruby was injured. She had stepped on a nail was what I discovered on Saturday, after trying to get a vet to visit. By Sunday, we had to keep her injury free of dirt. That includes soaking the hoof in a bath of Epsom salts with some betadine, an IV with antibiotics, and sedation. Of course, this was being done inside as a snow storm was making its way into the area. The expectations were for wind, cold, and at least 12 inches of snow. Wind chill dropped temperatures to single digits in the afternoon. Blowing snow covered paddocks, only to become mud puddles days after the storm.
From Sunday through Tuesday, the wind howled, and the snow fell. When it was over, I think we may have gotten up to 16 inches of snow. It was cold, often in the 20’s during the day. Jewel and I would be cold and subsequently reduced our morning walks. Yet everyday, we managed to push forward and get Ruby’s foot washed and covered.
By Wednesday, the snow had stopped. The wind subsided, and the sun came out. By Thursday, it had melted around the paddock area, and it was actually warm enough to soak and treat Ruby outside.
Using tape after soaking the foot was not the best approach since the paddock went from snow packed to mud in a couple of days. We managed to get her one of those boots so that we could keep her injury contained and dried. This is the second time that she has managed to injure this hoof with a nail. And it’s not like she has had a hard summer, since she was being treated for arthritis. We will know soon if the inflammation has subsided to where she can practice and compete, or whether her days of dressage, show jumping and cross country are over.
Halloween was last night. Sadly trick or treat was cancelled because of increased cases of COVID here in New Mexico, as is being seen throughout the United States. So this year, there was no Trick or Treat on Main Street, no Almond Joy’s for me to get from the kids, no stops at houses for the special adult beverages while we walk from house-to-house with the kids. We all wear masks and so far have been successful in avoiding the virus. I continue to split time in the office and working from home. The kids continue to have school from home. They get lots and lots of homework but they are not really learning. So much homework that they often cancel visits with me. Limited contact for many months will school friends and teachers. No band, choir, or movies. It is taking a mental toll on all of us and not sure when the end is in sight. It is obvious that American’s have grown weary of the whole lock-down, masks, the bull shit that is surrounding the pandemic. Medical science often suggests that the cure is often worse compared to the disease (paraphrasing here). This ain’t no cure. This is prolonging the inevitable.
This week we have an election. The future of our country, in my opinion, hangs in the balance. I have already voted. In person, wearing a mask, standing in line. Easy, simple, no Russian collusion. Four years ago, I voted for the Libertarian candidates, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Gary was a great governor during my time here in New Mexico. He was decent, and actually did well for the people of this state. I despised Hillary. Not because she was a woman. Not because she was a Democrat. She was crooked and evil. She was never about the American people. I hated Donald Trump, not because of his policy positions, but rather how he communicated his positions. He wasn’t Presidential in my opinion.
Four years ago, Trump won. Then as a nation, we had to endure four years of the other side contesting the election. There were never any debates about his policies. It was always a discussion about him. The other side never gave him a chance. They immediately concocted one BS story after the next. Under Russian Control. Fake reason for impeachment. Four years of lies. Four years of fake news. Four years of phony politicians trying to undo what the electoral process in the country put into power. Four years of total Bull Shit. Time wasted when we could have been working to solve the problems of this country. Before 2016, we wasted eight years of apologizing to the nation and to the world. That too was total BS. Now we wasted four more years because we hated the individual who was trying to do what was best for a country that did right by him.
And now we are within days of another election. The democrats have chosen another bad ticket. Neither Biden or Harris represent my values. They are corrupt and do not represent the best of America. I am suppose to vote for the lessor of two evils. Except it is clear to me that the principles that this country was founded upon are also under attack. The planned policies of the Democrats will undo how I have lived my life. Hard work. Rugged individualism. No handouts. I have worked and sacrificed to get where I am. Put myself through school. Borrowed money and then paid off my student loans. Got a job. Worked long hours. Lived by the rules and played by the rules. That was how my family did it. Those are the values that I try to instill into my children.
As I get on in years, and inch closer to retirement, I do watch what happens daily with the stock market. That is my money that I worked hard for. Invested. I sacrificed the nicest car, the biggest house, fancy vacations and lifestyle. The economic policies of the Democrats will serve only their own self-serving interests. They will not help those in poverty, those who have suffered because of the pandemic. They will not provide better jobs, make the middle class better, provide for clean air or clean water. The environment will not get better after the clean new deal. To treat the patient, you need to know the disease. They do not know the disease. We are heading down a path that will result in depression, unemployment, increased crime, and probably war.
It has been almost two months since my last post. It is not like I have forgotten, went on vacation, got a new hobby, or fell in love. I wish I could say that it has been awhile because I have been busy, or work has kept me away, or even the dreaded COVID tied me up. It has been none of that. I am especially thankful that I have not had COVID.
I and my family are healthy. We have largely listened to the CDC guidelines. Avoid going out in public. School resumed a few weeks ago on-line. We wear masks and maintain at least 6 feet social distancing. Wash our hands often. That said, staying inside has certainly made me “stir crazy”. I can see where this has taken a toll on my mental health, and I can see the toll on the mental health of my kids. They haven’t been able to go to school, or spend much time with their friends. No more trips to the movies, or out for dinner in a restaurant, horse competitions, or even band practice. I feel the urge to hop in the car and just go somewhere, do something different, to be spontaneous.
I do get out very often and when I find myself in the office, it is only part time. Trips to the grocery store are limited. Haven’t dined out or gone to the beer pub, ice cream with the kids on a hot evening, or even shopping. Camping was off limits as the parks were closed for much of the summer. No swimming, either indoor or outdoor. No art galleries or the annual kite festival. No trips to see concerts, or a return to the beach, or even home to Pennsylvania.
I think the dog is sick of us being home as much as we have been.
I have limited myself to largely working around the house and the stables.
I have become more of a hermit. I venture our for pick up from a variety of restaurants and bring it home. Less phone calls and more text messages. I have even ventured out to Starbucks, which has been on my boycott list for awhile. I prefer Morning Glory Bakery and the other small local establishments that has equally good coffee, and donuts and burrito’s. I don’t drink the exotic fancy coffee. But several of my colleagues prefer to meet up at the Starbucks and sit outside early in the morning to talk about work and other stuff. Talking to other people face-to-face has been good for the soul.
Work has been slow and difficult. No morning coffee cabel’s of late. Work has not been a very productive this year and between turnover in people, the stress caused by bad management, COVID restrictions, and the general direction of things, I find myself wandering more and more about retirement. A number of colleagues of mine have retired over the past year. In a few months, I will eclipse 30 years. If I am looking for change, that would be one way to make a major change in my life.
Many coworkers tell me that I cannot retire because I still have two young children. I need to save for college. You are divorced and that probably sucked lots from your retirement funds. Financially, I am saving and continue to save, both for my retirement and for college for the kids. I don’t know if I have saved enough, or which way the economy will turn over the next few years. That said, I am not optimistic of a favorable economic picture over the next few years, regardless of who wins the election.
I look out and do not see a bright future for our country given how it is being torn up from the inside. Between the riots, the lawlessness, protests, crime, and the economic shambles caused by the pandemic, the future doesn’t look great. The principles that I live by appear to be gone with the times. Rugged individualism appears to have been replaced with the handout. Living within your means has been replaced with shirking your responsibilities. Saving for tomorrow and getting a good education are no longer part of the roadmap for advancing.
I am tired of the fake media. I am tired of being told about white privilege. I am tired of being told that I am stupid because my opinion differs from yours.
For years, we have torn down the infrastructure in this country to be self sufficient, the infrastructure to build things. Now I see we find ourselves tearing down those things that form the building blocks of this country: education, striving to better ones self through hard work, religion, law and order. It is sad that with this destruction comes the inability to accept responsibility for our actions, or our inaction’s. We spend more time tearing down each other as opposed to working together for the common good. When did we become so hateful of our fellow citizens?
So much of it is because we are looking for the easy way out. I see it at work, I see it all around.
Yes today is Sunday September 6. It has been about two months since my last post. I see as I scroll through this post that I continue to ramble. In July 2019, I referred to is as frustration and a funk. I know where I have been but I am not sure where I am going. Maybe it is my loneliness eating at me, I do not know.
Tomorrow is Monday, and it is Labor Day. I will return to the weekday ritual. Jewel and I will get a walk in. I will make coffee, read and spend some time working around the house. Normally Monday is a work day, but I find myself in the odd situation where there is a holiday and I do not have the kids.
Until next time. Hopefully, today’s ramblings find you healthy, wealth and wise.