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Reflections on the daily routine

It’s the weekend and I found myself lying in bed contemplating a great many things. Between what I wanted to do this Sunday: the need to do laundry, clean the house, go for a hike, write a post for this blog read, rest, recharge my batteries, etc versus what I was able to accomplish Saturday: a hike, electing to be a couch potato and do absolutely nothing. So much to do, so little time to do it. What is my path for this weekend and will it be the same, or will it be different than previous weekends?

Sunrise…somewhere near Santa Fe and posted on the internet (https://santafe.org/blog/painted-skies-are-perfectly-santa-fe/).

I found it to be early, around 1:30 in the morning as I was lying in bed. I had gone to bed about 9:30 that Saturday evening. My typical routine of late when it comes to recharging my batteries. The bedtime routine starts with a text to the kids, who are with their mother this weekend. Just letting them know that I love them and miss them. Often I find myself in a somber mood after I send this text. If they are with me, I make it a point to kiss them good night and remind them to brush their teeth. For me, it is then to my room to brush the teeth, jump on the scale and lament that I cannot loose weight, recall if I took my meds, drink a tall glass of water. I crawl into bed after getting Jewel situated. Start some music on the iPad. Asleep within minutes. It is hotter than normal this time of year in New Mexico. Yet it must be too hot for her, and as she has done of late, Jewel jumps down from the bed and returns to her dog bed in the living room. Not sure if it is cooler, but what it usually means is that at some point in the night, I will be awakened by a whimpering, growling and barking dog who wants me to pick her up and return her to the bed. Wind appears to be picking up this evening. Wonder how many pine cones have fallen in the driveway that I will now have to pick up. Lack of the daily summer monsoons has left the state in need for water. We find ourselves again in a drought situation. Fire restrictions in the forests. Summer again finds itself with limited prospects of camping, and the ever important campfire.

COVID19 continues to keep things muted in terms of a return to normalcy. With this being the fourth month of the new normal, I find the routine outlined above to be my new normal, almost each and every night. I go to bed about 9:30, and find myself awakened after four to five hours of sleep. I lie their, contemplating the day before, what is in store for the next day, what is it about work, about life, finances, my surroundings. Often these thoughts keep me awake until I drag myself out of bed to begin the day. Very seldom do I find myself falling back to sleep. Over the years, I have found it difficult to function during the day if I fall back to sleep.

In one way or another, this has been my sleep cycle for over 40 years. College, graduate school, whatever. Four to five hours of sleep. That is not to say that I never sleep longer. It is my normal. Never the normal six, seven, or eight hours of sleep that other people get. In the past, when I was up by 3:30, it was the same. Shower, coffee, take Jewel for a morning walk around the block. This

Jewel on our typical morning walk.

Sunday was just like every other day. Nothing in the routine has changed. On those days where I went to work, I would find myself at work between five or six am, starting what was typically a ten to twelve hour day. Working at home with the COVID19 restrictions has not changed that routine much, if at all. Still have time for the morning coffee cabal, even if it is by text messages. Over the past few years, I have vowed an end to the twelve hour day. It all pays the same. This is especially true with the working at home over the past few months. Over the years, I have found it important to leave work AT work and NEVER take it home. Now that I am working from home, at least half time, this NECESSITY is harder to implement.

Somewhere in the typical Sunday routine, I like to find myself reading. As I do enough reading at work, I crave to learn or to entertain myself on the weekends. Whether it is a book, a newspaper, websites, other blogs, I find this another necessity. In fact, when I crawled out of bed this morning, I found myself revisiting those blogs that I found to be my financial favorites. Of late, I find myself starting over financially after the divorce, or at least I feel that way. That does not mean that at age 59-plus that I will have to work when I am 72 in order to retire. That portion of my financial picture is looking good, even with the market volatility caused by COVID19. As my employment situation finds me with a pension, and a healthy 401k on top, my portfolio mix appears to have been able to weather most of the current ups and downs. As I review some of the old financial blog haunts, I come across an old posting on Get Rich Slowly (www.getrichslowly.org). The posting deals with the three questions about life planning. I find myself contemplating this almost all of the time. I have worked hard to keep the financial house in order, but it clearly needs some spring cleaning, some new paint, and there are cracks in the sidewalk.

The article focuses on life planning, which should be viewed as the “human side of financial planning”. It’s basic premise is what are my goals as I stroll along the road of life. In some ways, this blog was my attempt to see what is in store for me over the next 50 years…

For me, this is a work in progress. I am an older baby boomer and a single parent trying to raise two teenage children. As for me, I am trying to figure out what the next 50+ years has in store for me. Please come along for the ride, and come back often. We will not be taking daily trips, but I will try to write often.

TheMcKeeSpot

Every area of life is a path defined by goals. Whether they are personal, financial, career, or other. Goals need to be stated, defined, specific, have a deadline, and define the path (or paths) necessary to achieve the goal. Whether it is finding myself lying in bed and contemplating a great many things: what will I do Sunday in order to make it different from Saturday, trying to figure out what the next 50+ years has in store for me, to will my financial picture today, that I have crafted over the past 30 years, with its own ups and downs, allow me to have the life that I want to achieve?

Yesterday I hiked a small portion of the Mitchell Trail above Los Alamos. The last time that I hiked it was before the Cerro Grande Fire. It was different. It was good.

After that article, I start rereading older posts from the same site, and the posts of others who write about the same or similar things. At one time, I kept a journal of sorts. I documented the plans, how I was doing in terms of achieving goals, whether I was on the correct road. Somewhere I stopped doing those things. I think that it was that somewhere in which I lost a great many things and that I now find myself returning to such efforts. Much of my thinking is associated with my locus of control. Locus of control is described as how people view the world around them, where people place the responsibility of what happens in their lives. It’s the difference in people: how reactive people act versus how proactive people react. Somewhere, my path shifted. At one time I was proactive, then I shifted to being reactive. And now I want to shift back to proactive. It is a difference in what is my circle of concern versus what is my circle of control. It is clearly the frustration and funk that I have written about in past ramblings. It is my contemplation of trying to tie everything together. For what purpose is unclear.

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Magazines

Many things that defined my growing up, college, graduate school, and the present, have changed with the creation of and continued expansion of the internet. Over the years, it has changed much of how I learn, watch movies, read, get the news, purchased things, my daily routines in life. It has had a significant change of how our society has evolved. Some of it has NOT been for the better in my opinion.

One of the many things that is debatable in this electronic age is the loss of magazines. The loss of books. The loss of privacy, of oratory and the spoken word. The converse may also be true. The internet allows me to share my thoughts. Put into words what I am thinking. The ability for it to be shared with anyone and everyone. This post is the manifestation of that.

Growing up, grade schools and high schools often raised money for student activities by selling magazines. I think Publisher’s Clearinghouse still offers annual contests for millions of dollars! In graduate school, much time I spent in the library reading chemistry journals. As a serious professional (a chemistry nerd), much money was also spent subscribing to the various ACS (American Chemical Society) and getting their journals delivered monthly. Now all of these can be obtained by paying for an electronic subscription. For the record, I think I stopped receiving those journals about 5 years after graduate school. It is still much easier to go to the library. They took up too much space in a one bedroom apartment. Moving many boxes of dead weight was a hassle. I don’t even think I saved the copies of the published issues where I actually published my original research articles. Alas, I can look them up on-line.

When I travel for work, if I don’t have a book to carry along, I will stop at the magazine store at the airport to pick up one for the trip. Of late, that has been either a sailing magazine or woodworking. Thinking about the next 50 years.

However, I still get magazines delivered to my home. When I got serious about making money and investing, I had to have every magazine out there. From BusinessWeek to MONEY to SmartMoney to Kiplinger’s to Cooking Light, Real Simple, even Men’s Health and Playboy. Over the years, I had several magazines delivered. Yes they take up space. I saved them before recycling them. Slowly, over the years, many of these magazines have migrated to an all electronic format. MONEY has been that way for about 18 months now. Note to son – sorry, but I got rid of the Playboy subscription and magazines before I met your mom. Replaced it for Coastal Living for a few years. I get a periodic e-mail reminder of what’s new in MONEY. I guess they make money by online advertising. It still has the same format.

Somehow, it just doesn’t fill all of my necessary sensory needs. With Kiplinger’s, which I still get sent to my house monthly, I have the feel. I can feel the paper, smell the paper, look at the pictures, read the articles. I can roll it up if I have to hit the dog, or the kids, or myself. I can recycle it. I can take it to work and leave it at the lunch table for others to read. I can even take it to the bathroom to read it. Every month, it comes to my mailbox and every month, I read it. Cover to cover. Takes maybe two days, cover to cover. I have it. I own it.

I used to get the Wall Street Journal every day, the same way. The stacks of paper would pile up. You still can, but several years ago I opted for the electronic version only. I think that the electronic version is quickly becoming overpriced at $38.99 a month. I find that the quality of the presentation is less, more typos, errors. It no longer prints the daily stock quotes as near as I can tell. They have a web site for that. The same article can appear electronically in different versions for several days. Corrections are easy, updates to articles are easy. But it is convenient. During the COVID19 situation, I wished that I still had the paper copy, especially on those days when toilet paper was in short supply. But I read it every morning on my iPad.

Garden & Gun April/May 2020.

The inspiration for this post was that I received and finished, my April/May 2020 issue of Garden & Guns about a week ago. I have found it to be the best printed magazine out there today. I know that I have June/July on my table to read next. I read it cover to cover, all the time. Why would a 59 year old man born and raised in the Northeast, who lives in the Southwest, enjoy a magazine about the South? It has great articles, photography, recipes. The advertisements make me think of places to add to my bucket list if I ever want to get away from New Mexico, even for a few days. Articles about guns, horses, dogs, the culture, music, cooking, cities, towns, decorating. This month features include Saving the South. Articles about 30 heroes, from musicians to chefs, farmers, cowboys, conversationalists, and others who are making the south a better place. I find it has something new, enlightening, enjoyable to read. A new recipe to try when I feel the need to practice some at home Chemistry.

The website https:gardenandgun.com has the June/July issue already up for your viewing pleasure. I cannot wait to sit and read it from cover to cover. To feel the paper. To gaze at the pictures and to contemplate the mouthwatering recipes. For Memorial Day (yesterday), they posted on Instagram a picture from Arlington National Cemetery (see above). Many other magazines follow this same format. They have an on-line presence, linked with their subscriptions. In my opinion some just do it better than others.

Yes I can get the copy electronically, sent to my iPad. It loses its meaning to me in some ways. So as long as I can continue to get the printed copy, I feel added pleasure. I can hold it, get a paper cut, enjoy the turning of every page.

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Reading is Fundamental

Today starts the final week of the school year for my son and daughter. Every year the schools send out information about summer reading programs, books to read, things to try to get the kids to read during the summer months. It’s a great idea and I try to do my best to get my children to read over the summer. There are two approaches that I take to accomplish this.

The first approach is pure capitalism. They get to choose the book and if it meets with my approval, then they read it. For every book that they read, I will pay them twenty dollars. The book has to meet with my approval, otherwise, the legal minds that are my children will argue over what constitutes a book. There is no prescribed number of pages, it cannot be a short story or a comic book. A collection of short stories is fine, but they have to read all of it. There is no quiz, or essay. I just need to see them reading. They are not speed readers, so devouring 100 pages in a day will cause me to question the actual reading. But it is the honor system, which I try to impress upon them is as important as being able to communicate well. The art of communication is dying in our society, between texts and tweets and emoji’s. It is certainly something that I struggle with and try my best to get it right. But I will let you be the judge based upon my blog posts.

The second approach is to lead by example. By that I mean if they see me reading, perhaps they will also read. I cannot ask them to do something that I then will not also do. I’m not going to pay myself twenty dollars, but I am going to read. One reason will be to generate ideas for future blog postings.

For the start of my summer reading, I have chosen a book that has constantly gotten the better of me. On a Facebook post once, I commented in the category of things people may not know about me is that I have managed to read the Bible twice, cover to cover. Odd as I am not a religious person, but we can explore that in some future blog. No my challenge for the summer will be my fourth attempt to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Why? First is that being a Rush fan, their songs were influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. Yes, I have seen the movies but the story is as important today as when it was written. Every time I start reading a book, I put the date and where I am at the time I am reading it. For this start, I wrote “here is hoping that the 4th time I will finish”. My copy is worn, having been purchased in the summer of 2011. I think I bought it as part of a trip to go see Rush in concert.

I’ll keep you informed of the summer reading challenge for both me and my kids. I’ll have more words tomorrow as I explore this new world of blogging and work to improve my own communication skills.