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Today is Saturday April 24, 2021

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.

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Today is Sunday April 18, 2021

OK, it has been a month since my last posting. It has been a very busy time for me since March 20th. I have been working long hours and not having much time for myself of late. Hopefully that may change but I am not very optimistic for the immediate future. Today it is cold and cloudy outside. Chance of snow in the forecast, but if yesterday is any clue as to today’s weather, the snow will be flurries and it will end and disappear quickly. Let’s hope that the change in weather will curtail my allergies, which have been very bad of late.

We could really use some moisture in the southwest, so any snow is welcome. The first couple of weeks of April have been warm and most of the snow pack on the mountains in New Mexico that surround Los Alamos has melted. Looking north towards the mountains into southern Colorado look better in terms of snow. We shall see what the rest of April and May will bring.

Since my last posting, we have experienced many days where the wind and heat have made the fire danger high. Warm weather this early does not bode well for the summer. I expect that it will be hot and dry, and camping in the forests will be curtailed. So much for hiking. Historically, this part of the southwest has experienced a major forest fire about every 10 years. Based on that statistic, we are overdue. In my 30 years hear, we have had two major fires that caused the town to evacuate. See my postings of May 13 and May 21, 2020 for additional information on the subject.

from the website https://www.wfas.net/images/firedanger/subsets/fdc_o_sw.png

I found the disclaimer on the site most interesting: Note:  Forecasts may not depict accurate fire danger between October and April. There are forest fires already burning in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma. The map above does misrepresent the state boundaries for Oklahoma and Texas.

The state of New Mexico continues to improve with declining COVID cases. With a couple of exceptions, this trend appears to be the same across the country. Many places are opening up. My kids have completed the second full week of learning in person at school. I have had my first and second shot of the vaccine. I think that the contact with people their own age has helped the kids begin to heal mentally, but it is clear that it will take a long time for them to recover from the lost time and lack of social contacts. I do not believe that the on-line learning has been all that beneficial.

from the NMDOH COVID-19 Public Dashboard.

Daily cases are down, testing is up, hospitalizations and deaths are down.

With a return to in class learning, I have been leaving work early to pick up the kids at the end of the school day. They do not want to ride the bus for reasons of social distancing, the possibility of COVID in a close and confined space, etc. So I have adjusted my work schedule accordingly. That means often starting early and working later. My work schedule is both on site and in the office as well as working from home.

I am OK with this schedule as I get to see them everyday. School ends in May so we need to see what we can plan for the summer. Daughter will hopefully return to riding, or at least daily practices with Willow. Son will be the bigger issue in terms of finding outside activities.

Morning feeding with Willow (near) and Ruby (far).

Ruby has been back to see the vet. According to the lameness locator there has been no improvement. So Ruby is officially retired from competition but can go on the occasional trail ride. Maybe daughter will let me take her for the occasional walk around the stables when I retire.

Next week I will have an anniversary of sorts. I will turn 60. My birthday falls on the same day as Ruby! No plans other than I will probably take the day off. Most days I believe that I do not feel 60, but on some days I do. Health wise I am OK based upon my last physical, except that I could loose a few more pounds. I have been working to do that since the start of the pandemic and fortunately I have not gained weight as many others. I have actually managed to drop about 30 pounds. I have another 25 to go.

The same goes with the dog (except losing 25 pounds) based on her last vet appointment. We both need to reduce eating junk food. No more McDonald’s french fries for either of us. For me, I have been cutting out soda, only drinking it on limited occasions. As I sit here, I am drinking my last Coke. My first in several months. Actually I find myself boycotting all Coke products since I heard their “woke” CEO complain about changes to election laws in Georgia. Read the damn bill people! It makes elections better and reduces the opportunities that others have been shown to exploit. I have the same opinion towards many other companies and their products. I find it just stupid that they have a problem. They make me show an ID showing them who I am when I use their products. Why is it such a problem for when we vote? Elections in America should be a vacation day and everybody should have to show up to vote. And yes there are certain situations where a person cannot be physically present. The pandemic was not one of them. I voted in person.

I do not support universal mail-in voting. I do not support voting from my cell phone.

I also noticed that Facebook was recently hacked but they never communicated it to their users. Thus far this year, I have received several notifications about accounts and institutions that have been hacked. One gets free account monitoring but nobody is held accountable or arrested or put in prison. I think it is time for the US to go on the offensive against these foreign nation-state cyber criminals and shut them down, blow them up, put them out of business. Until these criminals are stopped, I will continue to do business with cash, pay bills by check and in the mail, reduce setting up accounts for everything. And I guess that also means Life Lock and other insurance.

We have a few more weeks before our income taxes are due. Mine have already been filed and refunds have been received. Our national deficit continues to grow, inflation is surging with the stock market, and we have a crisis at the border.

Until next time, stay safe.

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Today is Saturday March 20, 2021

Today it managed to get into the middle 60’s. It was a beautiful spring day. Some wind but I think it is the first day of spring!. Some snow remaining on the mountains. Time is just flying by; with spring comes flowers, green grass and allergies.

WOW! I knew that it had been a few months since I last entered TheMcKeeSpot. But I did not think that it was at the end of December since my last post. Well I guess we have much to discuss. Where shall I begin…

Let’s start with the fact that I have been at Los Alamos for 30 years, 3 months and a few days. Wild. For my 30 years of service I got this very nice piece of Nambeware. I had previously wrote about this on my post of November 8, 2020, explaining the history of Nambeware.

My Nambeware for 30 years of service.

I have several pieces around the house. This is probably the largest piece that I own. Guess I can use it as a serving dish when I entertain those parties, Ha Ha Ha. Like the other pieces around the house, they just basically sit around and collect dust.

So on the horse front, Ruby is still with us but remains hobbled with her injury. So now we have Willow. Yes, we got a second horse. That had me remodeling the middle barn at the stables in the snow so that we could accommodate the second horse. Ruby was moved to the middle barn and the new paddock there.

From l to r: Ruby in her new paddock at the middle barn. Constructing the new stall at the middle barn. Welcome Willow.

Ruby was moved because when Willow arrived, she would not settle down. She just kept prancing back and forth. Moving her let her be closer to the front and she stopped pacing back and forth. They are both mares and it may take awhile for them to get along. Ruby is a quarter horse whereas Willow is a thoroughbred. They look alike in my opinion except Ruby has more brown color compared to Willow. Also, Willow stands several hands taller than Ruby.

The kids with Ruby and Willow (before swapping paddocks).

Still working at the lab. Of late it has been longer hours. Working longer but getting less accomplished. I really hate that but it appears to be the new normal, at least as far as work is concerned. Got a call from a former boss the other day inquiring if I would talk to a friend of his who works for a small company in Albuquerque, They are looking to hire people. I said that I would talk to them. Would I leave after 30 years? Unclear but the idea of something new is appealing but it would be tough as I could not move there because of the kids and everything. Still, the offer to return to doing actual Chemistry…we shall see.

COVID cases appear to be on the decline in New Mexico. Things are beginning to open up. Los Alamos County has been at the lowest level, turquoise now for a couple of weeks. Weekly cases continue to decline and things are almost back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of groups. Whether it will be a return to normal or something else is not clear. Vaccine’s appear to be slowly coming as well. Managed to get my first shot about a week ago. Sore arm for a few days. God bless President Trump and Operation Warp Speed to help mobilize the pharmaceutical industry and deliver 3 vaccines in months instead of years.

Kids are supposed to start school in person here in April. Odd that they will only be there for about 8, maybe 9 weeks then it will be summer. I think that it will be good for them to return to school and to be able to interact with friends and people their own ages. They have been locked up with little social interactions for over a year. Seems much longer than a year. Daughter will have much to do in terms of getting Willow ready for summer competitions. Not sure what son will do this summer but we need to find him something besides video games. Hoping to find him some computer-type activities like programming or such to let him see if that is interesting to him.

Tried to get sons drone that I got him for Christmas flying but one of the motors did not work. Could not open it up to repair it. Maybe I can send it to a repair place…or maybe I can buy him one that is not made in China. Emailed the company. NOTHING. Tried to recover my payment from the credit card company. NOTHING. I WILL NEVER BUY ANYTHING THAT IS ADVERTISED ON FACEBOOK AGAIN. NEVER EVER. Emailed them…silence. Must have been too busy fact checking some BS article. Also, I do not really like their new algorithms. Either many of my friends are no longer posting, or something else, I just do not know. Some of them I never see anything anymore. Perhaps they wised up and figured how much a waste of time it is.

Believe it or not but that just about catches you up on the ramblings for the past few months. No travel. Work and home, home and work. The occasional trip out to pick up food. That said, I did manage to go eat at a restaurant about 4 weeks ago. It was good just to get out of the house. Aside from my morning walks with Jewel, locked up in my office at work, or teleworking from home, I am very anxious to get out and do something. I have a birthday in about a month, so maybe I’ll get away for a few days, just to get away.

Well I will leave it here. Until next time…

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Today is Sunday November 29, 2020.

I find myself up before 4 am today. Typical of my sleep habits of late; seldom do I get more than four hours of sleep.

It has been a very lazy several days over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Outside it is cold and we even managed about one inch of snow.

Snow from the night before…

The state of New Mexico is supposed to come out of another two week COVID19 lockdown tomorrow. Over the past few days, the state has announced that it will shift to a three-tiered system in which it will impose COVID19 restrictions in each county based on its level of outbreak rather than curtailing activities statewide to slow the virus’s spread.

The new system will enable local communities to ease restrictions after public health data shows an outbreak is waning within their borders. The restrictions will be based on three colors: red will denote the highest risk of spread to yellow with green being the least restrictive. Not a return to normal as restrictions will still apply. As of today I think all counties are red with the exception of Los Alamos county.

The good news is that even a red coding is less restrictive than the current lockdown. Of the businesses that remain, they will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity as the holiday shopping season gets underway, whereas now they only can offer delivery and curbside pickup.

I don’t really understand the increase in numbers. Everywhere I turn, I see people in masks and practicing safe distancing. Maybe I am just being foolish in believing that people are remaining vigilant. For example, I know that when I take the dog for a walk on the streets, I do not wear a mask. But then again, there is nobody around me. I carry one in case but usually there is no one around when I am out walking my dog.

At the lab, COVID19 infections are also up. Again management is directing us to maximize teleworking. So, for next week I will find myself working from home, with only 5 hours onsite authorized. I expect that things will continue to be restricted for the remainder of this calendar year.

In general, I have found my productivity to decrease significantly. From bad computer connections to the ease in raiding the refrigerator, I have not enjoyed work from home. There needs to be a separation between the two. Otherwise, the lines get blurred and the whole stress of work stays with you. There is no time to relax and recharge the batteries. Many say that it is the future. Sadly, it is just another evolutionary decline in America. Because if we are able to work from home, that means that close to 170 million of us are not really creating things. We just keep moving the paper along.

While I am thankful to be employed, I can imagine how bad things are for those who are not.

I see the terrible effect that this has had on the kids. Unable to go to school and see their friends. Having to get school online offers limited socialization, the ability to have conversations with people of their own age or interests. It is clear in the few times that I have watched the whole teleschool effort from across the room that the solution being applied is more homework, less instruction.

So I had the kids for Thanksgiving dinner and they stayed until Friday afternoon. Thus, I got to practice the only Chemistry that I can do anymore, and that is cooking. As usual I prepared a turkey (herb seasoning, butter, onion and bell pepper and sausage filled the inside of the bird) with mashed potatoes, stuffing, glazed carrots, rolls, cranberry sauce and apple pie for desert. For some reason, we were not in the mood for pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving 2020.

As usual, I opened a bottle of red wine for my Thanksgiving meal. The kids had soda.

Son and I played video games and a few hands of GO FISH. Daughter was in a vegetative state in her room, watching videos and doing some art work. They both keep in touch with friends by texting. Even I keep tabs on daughter, not by going up the stairs to her room, but by texting or FaceTime. Technology has embellished our ability to be lazy. Black Friday was not spent in the store. It was in front of the computer. What to get the kids for the holiday coming up?

We had to venture out a couple of times to feed Ruby. A welcome respite from house arrest. Beyond that, I think we all just took it easy and did those things that keep us sane. Burned out by the COVID19 changes in our daily lives, we need a return to normal.

As I write this, Christmas is just 27 days away…

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Today is Sunday November 15.

Another sunny but lazy Sunday afternoon from Los Alamos, New Mexico. I spend most of my Sunday’s resting on the sofa, reading or cleaning up around the house. If the kids are here I find myself trying to entertain them, help with their homework. Then there are two trips to the stables to feed Ruby. But not this weekend. No kids. No Ruby. Sadly, Ruby is back at the vet after having survived another bout of colic.

The past few weeks have been rather hard on Ruby. Two bouts of colic (one before and one after the most recent snow), and a separate incident in the middle of our recent snowstorm recovering from stepping on a nail in her hoof. Coupled with the general summer of being injured and out of competition, the lack of eventing due to COVID, she has not had a strenuous workout since July. That has certainly taken a toll on my daughter because it was exercise and a distraction for her that she enjoyed and was good at it.

Colic is defined as any abdominal pain although horse owners typically refer to colic as problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Common causes of colic in horses include issues with diet, stress, changes in weather, sand digestion (caused by eating off the ground), or inadequate exercise, to name a few.

Ruby and daughter early November treating her for stepping on a nail.

Her summer injury is due to arthritis and it has it’s own set of issues and complications. More to come in a future post I am sure. As for her condition at the moment, we expect that she will be home from the vet this Tuesday. I will be glad to see her.

As I said above, Sunday is also the day that I try to read. In general I try to up on things that are of interest to me. Books, news articles, internet web sites, even magazines. And that is what I have been doing for the past few hours before I started to write this post. As I had much to catch up on this week, between the election, and the happenings in the news, I can expect that I will probably ramble about all of that as I write this post.

As always, I find myself here on the sofa with my companion, Jewel. The picture below is how I started this post several hours ago. Several starts and stops to let her out, get her water, her desire to be a lap dog when she knows that she cannot be a lap dog.

Jewel this Sunday, November 15.

I have the computer set up so that the TV is the monitor. This makes it great for downloading movies from internet sources, playing DVDs, or working on the computer itself. The large screen makes it easy to see what I am writing.

Here in New Mexico, the Governor has started another two week lock down of all things nonessential. Schools were trying to resume but now are retreating back to learning from home and on-line. I have concluded that there is no learning, there is only lots and lots of homework.

The other day I had to help son make a catapult. It was an assignment for his Makers Space class. After we fabricated it, we then had to shoot 10 different projectiles and record the distance. As a twist, I had him weigh the items, which comprised of 6 different rubber and plastic balls and then a penny, nickel, dime and a quarter.

Catapult project.

He started with a few ideas from the internet as to how to construct the catapult. That had us run to the local hardware store for the supplies. For safety purposes, I used the table saw while son supervised fabrication of the catapult. It was actually a fun afternoon and diversion. For me, the diversion was from work. For him, the diversion was from video games and the opportunity to get his homework completed.

Anyway, the kids will continue on-line school and I will continue to work from home more days than I care to. The two week imposed lock down starts tomorrow, November 16 and is to last for two weeks, although it may be extended. We have seen a spike in cases since mid-September and are currently seeing over 1000 cases daily. This increase is causing strains on hospitals and other medical resources.

We have seen a similar uptick in cases at work. Recently over 500 people had to quarantine associated with contact tracing. A confirmed COVID-positive resulted from an individual who attended a Halloween party. There is also concern being raised because of the upcoming family celebrations associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The experts suggest that the increase in COVID is the result of changing weather, which is resulting in more indoor activities due to the cold weather that is approaching. I think some of it is COVID fatigue. For the first time in over 7 months, I actually went out and had a beer. Although I must point out that I sat away from people and I was outside. It was good, albeit brief, to do something different for a change. I think the coworker who joined me also had a good time. Certainly was a stress reducer. Hopefully a vaccine will soon be available because our society cannot continue this way. People are suffering. People are hurting. I know that I need a change of pace.

Anyway, I was trying to spend today reading up on this latest phrase that I have seen in the news, daily readings on the internet, etc. Called the great reset, it sounds like some people want to use the pandemic to push through their own political agenda. My reading takes me immediately to the source, the world economic forum ( https://www.weforum.org/great-reset/ ). I immediately conclude that it comes from those who have different set of beliefs and agendas than I. To me, it is liberal. It is a mindset that is not to my liking, not consistent with my upbringing and beliefs. But I need to research it further and keep an open mind. A quick scan of the website causes me to venture across the subject of the 4th Industrial Revolution. I presume that this revolution covers the technological advances in computing and artificial intelligence to biotechnology and nanotechnology. I read that these technologies come with a potential to help us solve some of our most pressing global challenges. Somehow I recall reading about “The Third Wave” a number of years ago, and wonder if this too was another revolution where different technological advances shape our lives, the environment, how the world around us is interconnected and how we are to advance as a society.

Of late, I find my interests in reading are often derived from history to political science to economics. I visualize it as an interesting Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets. These diagrams depict elements as points in the plane, and sets as regions inside closed curves. I view this Venn diagram as having a cause and affect relationship where the size of the circles and the overlap changes as time marches forward, as technology advances. The sum total of the Venn diagram is what I believe describes the total human condition.

A Venn diagram of what I would suggest shows the overlap of history, political science and economics.
A competing Venn diagram for one to ponder.

At any rate, lots to ponder with today’s ramblings. One thing that I have noticed is that I need to work on the format of my blog in order to make it more appealing to the reader. After all, this is an experiment of sorts for me as I ponder the next 50 plus years in terms of the direction of my life. Add that to my research over the next few months.

Much to research and read up on in order to figure out where they take me, or where I am heading. Until next time…

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Today is Sunday November 1, 2020.

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.

Same photo from May 2019. But I can tell you that the book is still on my table, next to my work computer.

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.

Ruby’s paddock area Friday, October 30. It was covered in snow several days earlier.

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.

Four years ago, Trump won. I hope he wins again!

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Two more anniversaries this week

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Anniversaries…of sorts”. The article, with lots of pictures, illustrated some of my memories in acknowledging the 20th anniversary of the Cerro Grande Fire, the subsequent evacuation and recovery. I provided some commentary about these memories.

I did not share with you one of the most vivid memories of the time surrounding the fire and evacuation. May 21st marks what would have been my 20th wedding anniversary. It’s something that I don’t celebrate anymore as it represents one of many painful days that I mark on the calendar in silence. Luckily for us at the time, we planned the wedding NOT in Los Alamos, rather in Santa Fe. The ceremony and reception was held at a little resort south of Santa Fe called Sunrise Springs. Fortunate, I guess. Los Alamos was still evacuated and when it opened by the 20th, we were already planning last minute arrangements and entertaining guests in Santa Fe. Our friends hosted a party in White Rock on the 18th, which was open by that date. You could not even go up the hill to the town site itself on that date.

When we evacuated, we left many of our belongings behind, hoping and praying that it would not be destroyed by the fire. While we were lucky, supplies for the reception and things for the ceremony were left behind. We were able to gather those things up by having requested and received approval for a National Guard escort into the town. Two vehicles under escort by military personnel in Humvee’s. We met them at the entrance to the town and were given approximately 20 minutes to gather up the stuff.

Certainly wasn’t in the criteria that constituted an emergency return to the town, but we asked. When we called to get on the list, the individual on the other end of the line understood and pushed us to the top of the list. Granted, we were trying to get in while the town was still closed, smoldering ashes still were nearby, the fire was north of the town and out of control. No site seeing. In and out.

That in and of itself, makes for a fond memory of the aftermath of the fire. Perhaps having a wedding during a forest fire was foreshadowing of my future happiness. I still remember the trip. The two guardsmen escorts were laughing as I was loading up the jeep with cases of alcohol. We were having an open bar. Cases of wine, champagne, stuff for margaritas, whiskey were loaded up. The special elaborate table settings for over 200 guests were also retrieved. The reception was less about us and more about family and friends.

One of the most interesting memories of that day was that there were people at the reception who we did not know or did not invite. At the end of the ceremony, when there was a reception line, people came up to congratulate us and to thank us. We were are like “who are you”? It turns out that they were friends of guests who we had invited but their homes were actually lost during the fire. They were sleeping in the garages, the floor, the spare bedrooms of others. They came, literally dressed with the clothes on their backs, having lost everything. We were glad they came so that they could find a brief respite from what was a painful event.

The other anniversary worth noting this week is the one year anniversary of this blog. My first post was on May 23rd, 2019. One year and 63 published posts. Looking at the statistics, I can see that if you don’t post regularly, you don’t get many visitors. Certainly I am looking at ways to increase my audience. I have seen an increase recently, probably because I have been writing more. Guess I need to add links to FaceBook, or from my FaceBook pages? Advertise? Make connections, circulate? Write better posts? Open up the discussion to more interesting topics beyond what just comes to mind that day? I have been reading other blogs regarding ideas to increase readership. I don’t have any plans to advertise or even try to make money on this site. Some of my friends think that I should. I am just trying to express myself an outlet for what comes next in life.

I think that I would like to start and make the layout more appealing. Possibly provide links to some of my favorite web sites, perhaps the weather or local news? Other possibilities include a Ruby-cam or a Jewel-cam? Maybe a weekend special feature, book, movie or music reviews? Stock tips? A daily quote? More pictures? What is new and exciting in Chemistry this week? The ideas are endless so ideas from readers are always appreciated.

So hear is to my one year anniversary.

Happy 1st Birthday to TheMcKeeSpot.com

In my profile, I write “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”. One year down, at least 50 more to go.

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Sunday Morning: horses, birds, poetry and history

Instead of sleeping in this Sunday, I found myself awake at 3 and out of bed before 5. Had this been a normal work day, I’d be up and showered, having my morning coffee, dog fed and planning our morning walk. But it is Sunday. Son is up and having breakfast. Daughter, who was still awake when I went to bed, is still sleeping. Debating about whether to wake her to go feed the horse.

Ruby greeting me…hoping that I have treats for her.

I went to feed the horse by myself and let daughter sleep in. She always comes to the fence to greet me, expecting me to reach into my coat pocket for some cookies. I do and she is happy.

Hay for the morning, and some beet pulp, grain and supplements. Twice a day.

The snow from earlier this week has been melting, and what it leaves behind is a muddy paddock and by the end of the day, an equally muddy horse. She loves to roll on the ground.

The mountains above Los Alamos are covered in snow, as is most of the Jemez and Sangre De Cristo Mountains this time of year.

The mountains vary from 11,000 to over 14,000 feet, depending on which mountain range tour are interested in. The peaks over 14,000 are part of the fourteeners that lie along the Sangre De Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. According to wikipedia, Colorado has over 50 mountains over fourteen thousand feet. Wheeler Peak, northeast of Taos and north of Los Alamos, is the tallest peak in New Mexico and lies along the Sangre De Cristo Mountains at 13,167 feet. Depending on where you are at the stables, you can see it on a clear day.

As it was a nice but lazy day with the kids, and snow on most of the trails, a hike was out of the question. None of us ski, so that was out as well. This day turned out to be just like any other day. Son played video games; daughter spent the day doing drawing and other things in her room. As for me, a restful afternoon of eating, reading and a movie or two.

While at the stables feeding Ruby, I heard many birds. The loudest were the black birds that can be seen and heard throughout most of the area. I spied these two in a tree along the canyon top behind the stables.

A pair of black birds sitting in a tree.

I call them blackbirds, ravens, or crows without really knowing much about the different species of birds. Fortunately I was able to search the internet. The Parajito Environmental Educational Center at the Los Alamos Nature Center (reproduced from https://peecnature.org/bird-of-the-week-the-american-crow/) was able to tell me that the American Crow is easily found all year in Los Alamos County. Because they are closely related to their larger cousin the Common Raven, it can be hard to distinguish Crows from Ravens with only a casual look at one. Crows fly with a steadier wingbeat, while Ravens spend more flying time gliding. If you get a good look at the bird’s beak, you’ll see the Crow’s beak is smaller in relation to its head. If the bird is flying, look at the shape of its tail feathers – Crows’ tails are squarer and Ravens’ are more wedge-shaped. As the pair in the tree did not fly while I was watching them, I could not distinguish the wing shape.

Of course, thinking that they are ravens’ I immediately began to think of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, of which I can only remember the first line…(reproduced from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48860/the-raven)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

As a kid, the family would go camping at Poe Valley and Poe Paddy State Parks beck in central Pennsylvania. The parks are named for Big Poe Creek, which runs through the area. There one would also hear the sounds of blackbirds, crows or ravens. Growing up, we were told that Edgar Allen Poe wrote the poem “The Raven” while visiting the area. This is not true by most literary accounts, but nonetheless, makes for an interesting tie between my early life in Pennsylvania to my present life in New Mexico. All of this, based on a bird, Indian tribes, history, and nature…

This folklore is associated with an old inn called the Eutaw House, located in Potters Mills at the intersection of Route 322 and Route 144. The Eutaw House has been in existence for over two centuries. General James Potter, who was notably an aide to George Washington during the American Revolution, originally owned the ground where the building sits today. After Gen. Potter’s death, his children built a log cabin on his property. Later the log cabin would become the Eutaw House and go through a few more renovations. During its early years, the house served as a major inn for early pioneers and travelers. The house was named after the local Eutaw Indian tribe.

As anyone could imagine with the Eutaw House being around for a few centuries, it has gathered some ghost stories through the years. Ghostly shapes have been seen in mirrors throughout the building. In the kitchen and restaurant, trays and plates have been known to flip over or fall off tables. Patrons and employees have seen apparitions and shadows move in the hallways and rooms. One story tells of a prisoner being shot or hung in the attic during the 1800s and a different story says that it was a tree at the corner of the property. During one of the early Indian raids on the Eutaw house, one Indian is said to have been hung on the large old tree. Hearing a rope “thud” or creaking noise has been reported near the tree to this day.

Even with all the ghostly happenings at the Eutaw House, its most interesting story is the speculation that Edgar Allen Poe had once stayed the night at the Inn. Some early folklorists have written that Edgar Allen Poe had once visited the Centre County area and was even inspired to write a few stories such as the Raven during his travels through Central Pennsylvania. The only evidence that leads some credibility is the initial “EAP” that are carved into one of the oldest tables in the Eutaw House. Historians today doubt the legend of Poe’s journey to Centre County, but it makes for a good story nonetheless. ( reproduced from http://discoverypa.blogspot.com/2015/10/edgar-allen-poes-visit-to-central.html)

Well that is enough for today. Hope you enjoy the stories and how a simple thought can span decades, through nature, and have ties into history.

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Without heat in the modern age

For the past few weeks, I have been troubleshooting a problem with my gas furnace. It was kicking on and off frequently. It was having difficulty reaching the thermostats set temperature. My three level house was cold on the inside. It was colder on the outside.

My daughter’s horse Ruby had gotten clipped about two weeks ago. The shaving of the thick coat of hair requires that she be blanketed when the weather becomes bad and when the temperature falls below 40F. As it often does in northern New Mexico for this time of year, we have rain, freezing rain, snow. The temperatures can fall into the teens at night. The wind chill can make it very, very cold.

This morning, as I write this post, it is cold and raining. Snow is in the forecast. It is a dreary day outside with no heat to speak of. It’s 33 as I grab my boots to get daughter up in order to go feed the horse. Inside is equally cold. It is only 62 and son is out of control playing with the dog.

Ruby has no problem with the cold weather. She gets plenty of hay, a warm and waterproof blanket, and a stall to keep her covered if the weather is bad. But she is a horse, so often we find her outside when the rain or snow is falling.

Now to the furnace. It was inspected when I bought the place a few years back. Worked fine. Of late, it hasn’t been very efficient in keeping the house warm. I figure it is about as old as the house, but not that elements have been upgraded based on the dates of various pieces of equipment. The furnace is a gas-fired water boiler that is the center of a hydronic heating system. The system heats water and circulates it through the various radiators on the three levels of the house.

The furnace appears to work fine in that it kicks on and heats gas. The problems appear to be (1) the zone valves are not working in all zones, and (2) the water lines that circulate during the heating cycle do not have water. This may be why the zone valves have stopped working. This explains why the heat wasn’t getting to the set thermostat setting. No water to circulate, no water to heat. Time to call in the repairman because I am not very good at things mechanical.

Easier said then done. I called on five different outfits. Left messages with three. No return call. Talked to a nice lady on Thursday who could not fit me in until Friday. On the fifth attempt, I was able to get a technician out late in the day. He spent an hour looking at the system. Didn’t fix anything. Couldn’t understand where the circulating water went or why it wasn’t filling. Clogged valve? He took many pictures and said he would call on Friday. Friday came. He called and said that I needed some new parts that would take time to order and receive. So there I was. This weekend and into next week without any heat. Was suppose to have a follow up call to authorize the parts. Nothing. Called Friday. Email and called Saturday. Nothing. Finally, a woman called me to acknowledge the email but had no information. No knowledge about parts, or when then could work on the system. Would call me first thing Monday.

In the mean time, I found the replacement parts on the internet. Some can be purchased at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Wanted to gauge the price of the parts because I am sure they will be marked up significantly. I get skeptical when they say that they need to bring it up to code! Cha-Ching! Wanted to see about ordering the parts if the repair company decides not to call me back. Caution…Based on experience.

So what are The kids and I doing for heat? The house has a fireplace so we have wood. Will probably do that today as it is cold and raining outside. We also have a space heater that has been working nonstop since Friday. Sleep has been great with a couple of blankets and a warm dog to curl up with me.

The question is will they call back? When. When will they order the parts and how long before they arrive? Will they even call me back? I leave for business travel next week. My house will have no heat for a couple of days but it looks like the weather will cooperate. The aquarium has a water heater so the fish will be ok. Jonny the hamster has lots of bedding so he should be fine.

Will it be fixed for Christmas? May be that is what I’ll ask Santa as my present?

More importantly, when will I learn that things don’t last forever. They do require maintenance. Things, and animals, and people, do require proper care if they are to last for a long time.

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Sunday ramblings

Today is Sunday August 4. Spent the better part of the past 3 days contemplate my future. In the background is the Fox News broadcast “Life, Liberty & Levin”. I seldom watch the news on TV, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching. The platform is a question and answer session, which is better than many of the talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum. The subject is a discussion about the second Cold War with Niall Ferguson. It entails an economic war as opposed to a military conflict, but that the long view is that China will win because they take a long-term view and that our political system will rive change and we will loose site on the long term. Interesting conversation. I have long found that the interface between economics and history/politics interesting. If I had been smarter, perhaps I could have made a career in the field.

Daughter leaves for the US Pony Club National Championships central region. The competition is in Colorado this year, which is a 6 hour trip near Denver. Son and I will stay home to keep the stress down. I wish her luck in all of the events that she is competing in. Hopefully she will remain n the horse and finish. Both she and Ruby have been practicing hard the past several weeks. She will be competing in show jumping and eventing.

Friday I managed to visit with my financial guy to review my status on the path towards retirement. While I am on tract, I have a few areas to clean up. The discussion covered numerous areas beyond just focusing on 401k balances, debt, and what I plan to do after retirement. Of course, plans are always subject to change. Given the current political climate, I am concerned that much could change and destroy my plans and my future.

Then of course, we had another weekend of a lone gunmen and mass killings. I am pro gun and believe that guns don’t kill people, rather people kill people. That said, I have no problems with background checks, licenses and insurance much like one has for an automobile, keeping automatic guns out of the hands of people, and mental health. You need to keep guns out of the hands of some people. The issue then becomes how. You also need to acknowledge that if people want to harm others, they will. I get a check up annually as far as my mental health as required for my job and my employer. Sadly, I am afraid that the increases in gun killings recently has more to do with the declines in our society and it’s values, the fact that we continue to lesson the value of human life. This is in opposition to those who subscribe to a theory that the increase is associated with the number of guns available.

There is much hate these days, and it surfaces on social media often. Politically, we are divided as a nation and it shows in many areas. I will have more to say about these topics as we continue on the journey of this blog.