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It’s seven o’clock on a Sunday Morning.

Greetings from New Mexico. It is Sunday January 16, 2022. It is cold outside. It is early in the morning. I am trying to get into the trend of getting up early on Sunday to post. Certainly no mutant messages are being heard here. But the mutants did pay a visit.

It has been a wild week since my last post. Last week focused on the continuing COVID pandemic. I wonder if it was foreshadowing for this weeks events? Well, this week it managed to hit home. Daughter was notified about contact tracing at the high school and started feeling bad last Sunday. Everyone who I know that has been flagged by contact tracing has turned out to be positive within a few days. If you are lucky enough to get a test!

By Monday, daughter tested positive. Son tested negative but stayed home awaiting for the inevitable. By Wednesday, daughter was starting to feel no worse, son tested positive. And since they were with their mother, she too was hit with the symptoms. In all cased, it was the equivalent of a bad cold, with congestion, cough and a low grade fever. Of course, not to be outdone, their aunt in Louisiana was working through her second bout of the Chinese virus.

In all cases, everyone was fully vaccinated. The adults had the booster. What is obvious is that the vaccine, nor having the earlier mutations, does not protect you from getting the virus. However, it appears that it reduces (thus far) your symptoms and complications.

Needless to say, by the middle of the week, I was taking care of the horses, making food deliveries and keeping track of my kids from a distance. Elements of work were moving to working at home. Aside from hating it, aspects of my job simply cannot be performed at home. By the end of the week, I was still in the office every day but the Los Alamos High School and the Los Alamos Middle School returned to remote learning, and both kids had already missed almost a week of in-class education.

At this juncture, I need to pause my thoughts and go feed the horses…

As it has been getting in the low 20’s here at night, the horses need to have blankets. Roman is still confined to a smaller paddock area months after his surgery. Daughter was riding him on the Saturday before she fell ill. Ruby, who spends her days starring at the neighboring stables and horses, and goats, and donkeys, likes it when I feed her because I always have cookies to greet her.

As you can see, there remains some snow in the background of the photos. We had some several weeks ago but it is slowly melting. We clearly need more, much more in order to recover from the drought that has hit the state, and much of the southwest over the past few years.

…What I thought was going to be a brief pause for feeding turned out to be almost 12 hours. I went and fed the horses. Then I went for my usual Sunday morning coffee at Starbucks. My friend and coworker managed to return from Florida late last week. Almost a week later than he normally planned, but air travel experienced a number of flight cancellations over Christmas, New Years, and into early January. After coffee, I managed to run a few errands and returned to the stables to move some hay.

It turned out to be a beautiful day with temperatures in the middle 40’s. Moved hay and took Ruby for a walk. Her, and my first real exercise outside in months. Fed the horses dinner and then tended to myself.

Ruby was all excited when I grabbed her halter to take her for a walk.

So we managed to walk the outer loop at the stables, which is over a mile. She was thirsty when we returned, as she started to eat the snow. I have never seen a horse eat snow.

Ruby eating snow after our walk.

We also managed to see Roman, who was outside on such a great day. We caught him lying down, sunning himself and taking a nap. As I said, he is still taking it easy after his surgery. And with his rider out with COVID, not much for him to do. He finally got up and we were able to snap a good picture of him.

Up close with Roman.

So the end of the week was very different than normal. I spent it outside with the horses, doing a bit more than just feeding them. While I do not ride, maybe someday I could learn. At least I had fun spending time with them. Here is to the kids getting better, me keeping from getting sick, and to the horses. Until next time. Much to be done.

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…and its the last Monday of 2021.

Happy Holidays everyone. I trust you all had a warm and Merry Christmas. And now your thoughts turn ahead to the new year. I certainly hope for COVID to be gone in the new year. I found myself up at my usual time today and practiced my same routine: shower, get dressed, make coffee, and take the dog for a walk.

Outside it is cold and windy. There is some snow on the mountains above Los Alamos and Santa Fe. And there is snow in the forecast for today. As I sit writing this post, I noticed that the sun is shining outside.

For me it was a very uneventful Christmas. I believe that this was the first time that I had the kids stay over on Christmas eve. It has been a short 9 years (give or take) since the divorce. My first Christmas in awhile that I did not awake alone in this quiet house.

And so we awoke Christmas day to open presents and then feed the horses. As I have in past years, son and I put the tree up about 14 days before Christmas. For the past 5 years we have always put the tree in the same place. Unfortunately, this causes us to displace the dogs bed, which causes confusion with Jewel. She thinks that she is somehow in trouble and it clearly upsets her visibly.

The tree…and the stockings. Christmas 2021.

I certainly go for the minimalist look at Christmas time in terms of lights and decorations. Especially outside where this year I think that it was bells, a wreath, some canes with lights and an inflatable Grinch (my personal favorite). Of course, nothing brings yuletide greetings better than a visit to the local Starbucks for some coffee…

A lazy Sunday before Christmas.

Christmas is always another time for me to practice Chemistry. This year was Herb-Garlic crusted prime rib, a roasted Honey-root vegetable medley, baked potatoes, fruit cocktail and ice cream. The kids enjoyed the food, as did I, in terms of the preparing as well as the consuming.

Prime Rib on Christmas Eve 2021.

On Christmas day, we awoke to a cold and windy day, with some kids sleeping in until 7 am. Presents were opened, and I find it interesting to note that the kids actually had a theme for this year in terms of the gifts that they got me…

They try to get me to tell them which one is my favorite!

Hopefully it will be a quiet week. Had thought long and hard about going somewhere but looking at the inability to get travel arrangements on airplanes and the spike in COVID made that an easy decision.

Thinking that maybe I’ll spend the week cleaning up around the house, and do some reading. Not feeling too inspired or wanting to get out.

Looked at the postings over the year. Yes my son has changed clothes and although he is wearing the same shirt at Christmas Ever dinner as he did at Thanksgiving dinner, I can say he was delighted that school was out for a couple of weeks. Daughter is finally able to ride Roman and they both are starting a conditioning regime. So that has her smiling of late.

As for me…another year is winding down. I am still reading Atlas Shrugged, but I might work on that this week. I survived another year at work, but I am pretty sure that this will be my last. Managed to purchase some additional Made in the USA blue jeans, and now I am looking to get some shoes and dress shirts.

Oh how I wish that I posted more this year. Alas, I did not. Clear that as I ponder the postings, I see that my life revolves around work, horses, kids and the dog. I certainly think about a great many thing, but few of those thoughts actually get posted here. Most of my political rants get posted on Facebook, often after reading about things on a variety of web sites.

It’s Monday and so I’ll spend some time looking for investment ideas for the new year. Themes to put my savings so that they may grow at a rate greater than the inflation that the year had brought upon us. It is now over $50 to fill the gas tank, which is up 20% since this time last year.

Until next time…

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There are less than 20 shopping days left until Christmas…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanksgiving

Yes, I am writing this posting a few days after Thanksgiving. It has been a quiet but busy morning for me. It has been a month since my last post. I have, unfortunately, been too busy with work. COVID continues to make the new normal less normal. The world has become a very strange place. I am afraid that the planet that I leave for my children will be far worse than the planet that my parents left for me.

Thanksgiving was typical for me. It represents an annual treat where I get to practice chemistry in the modern sense. I get to cook. I get to enjoy wine. Wine for me; soda and water for the kids. But they like it that they get to drink out of wine glasses. I get to sit around the dinner table with my family. And for the most part, they put down their phones and iPad’s for eating and conversation (although they sneak a glance now and then). So true for this year as in previous years. It has become my annual tradition since the divorce.

Thanksgiving 2021

The kids basically came over for dinner and desert, and like that, they left. I find it troublesome that I do not get to see them as much but after all, they have their own life.

Now that daughter can drive, she comes and goes as she pleases. On this day, she arrived after son, coming from the stables after feeding Ruby and Roman.

Friday was spent doing some reading, cleaning up around the house. Watching some movies. And of course, eating leftovers.

Saturday was football. Ohio State lost. Penn State lost. All of the teams that I was routing for…lost.

Kinda spent Friday and Saturday as a couch potato. Maybe more like the “I want to be alone because the outside is such an evil place”. Didn’t even go for my morning walks the whole time I was off from work. And it shows that I have eaten more than usual as I have managed to put about 5 pounds on. Need to work harder on the whole diet routine because I have plateaued and cannot get to my next target. Jewel is bothered as she didn’t get her morning walks. She was usually sitting on the sofa next to me, but this morning I think she went back to bed. But tomorrow the routine of the work week will resume, and she will get her time.

Outside it is cold, as the mornings I find myself awakening to temperatures in the 30’s. The cold part of fall has arrived in northern New Mexico, as has some snow, especially in the upper elevations.

Spent this morning without coffee. That is something I will have to rectify shortly. But I managed to make the annual family calendar. It is a photo montage of the year in the life of me and the kids, and the dog and the horses. I usually get a couple extra so that I can send out as Christmas presents to the immediate family. For me, most of my Christmas shopping is done. Started early because of the whole supply chain delays.

Several weeks before Christmas, and just like that, it will be another year at work has past. I need to figure out that whole retirement thing and get on with it.

School will soon be over for the kids. It is still not normal either. Everybody wears masks. Everybody is vaccinated, and I have had my booster. And yet it is still there. The e-mail about the COVID case at school. The need for testing as you have the symptoms of the common cold. Influenza is making the rounds this year.

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Happy Halloween and other Eerie Events

As I was devouring my Sunday breakfast, I was time to search the internet and read up on some interesting articles of the day. All of this as I was preparing to write another post to TheMcKeeSpot blog. I was planning to write about the happenings since my last post, reflect upon October coming to an end and it’s now November. Christmas is right around the corner and I will have eclipsed another year at the Lab.

Then, among the articles in my news feed, I cam across a very interesting article. Entitled “The Five Universal Laws of Human Stupidity. We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril”. Written by Corinne Purtill, the article that I read can be found at

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-five-universal-laws-of-human-stupidity?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Upon reading the article, I had to search the underlying premise behind an article on human stupidity. BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed the article.

The premise was created in 1976 by an economics professor at the University of California, Berkley. Personally, the work of Carlo M. Cipolla may be the best work that I have read published from UC Berkley (in my opinion), a school known for it’s socialist agenda (in my opinion).

Another article on the work of Cipolla can be found at another magazine, The Guardian, known for writing some interesting articles.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/09/improbable-research-human-stupidity

The best takeaway from the articles, because Cipolla was an economist is that

Countries moving uphill have an inevitable percentage of stupid people, yes. But they enjoy “an unusually high fraction of intelligent people” who collectively overcompensate for the dumbos.

Declining nations have, instead, an “alarming proliferation” of non-stupid people whose behaviour “inevitably strengthens the destructive power” of their persistently stupid fellow citizens. There are two distinct, unhelpful groups: “bandits” who take positions of power which they use for their own gain; and people out of power who sigh through life as if they are helpless.

Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of Improbable Research, as quoted from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/09/improbable-research-human-stupidity.

Those two paragraphs struck me as very interesting, as it provides a simple explanation of why America is in decline. Our educational system is in decline and we are left producing more and more stupid people, at the expense of less and less smarter people. The end result is the decline and death of a nation. All because of an “alarming proliferation” of stupid people. Read about them all of the time, see many of them at work. They even have annual awards for some of their exploits (aka, The Darwin Awards).

I guess I only point this out because next week is election day. An off year for elections in our area, it’s the election for the local school board, school bonds, and other such stuff that has become part of the democratic process. School boards and elections have become big things of late, based on the news and the Virginia governor’s election. It is time to get our country moving in the right direction, before it is too late.

Interesting reading. I even found that Cipolla wrote a book, available for purchase on this and other topics, as identified here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/210480.Carlo_M_Cipolla

I hope that I cited the necessary works of others in this blog post. As I find helping my children with homework assignments, I often turn to the internet for help, as do they. I constantly remind them of the importance in citing other people whose words and ideas that you use, even in reports. I have come to find out that my children’s teachers run the reports, essays and other written words through various programs, specifically looking for plagiarism.

But I digress…

Tonight is Halloween. It was cancelled last year because of COVID, but this year, it appears that the kids will be able to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods. So I have my supply of candy just in case. Didn’t really do much in preparation, like decorations around the house, I didn’t purchase a Joe Biden mask, and not sure if the kids are going trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Neither one certainly spent any time getting a costume. We didn’t carve any pumpkins. As time marches forward, the things we did in the past, simply fade away and become memories, provided we have caught them on or IPhone.

Son and daughter, October 2016.
Son and daughter, October 2018.

Yesterday was full of many college football games, which caused me to be a couch potato and scream at my TV for most of the day. Michigan State beat Michigan, and Ohio State beat Penn State. Sets up some interesting games as we move through November when Michigan State plays Ohio State, Michigan plays Penn State and the granddaddy of them all, Michigan plays Ohio State. Clearly there will be much excitement over the next few weeks as we approach Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Another tradition of sorts is happening, starting this weekend. McDonald’s is bringing back the McRib sandwich. I will always choose the McRib, over the Big Mac. It is so newsworthy that it actually made the business pages…

McDonald’s announced the sandwich’s return back in September. | Fox Business

https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/mcrib-returns-next-monday

Check out what's clicking on FoxBusiness.com.
The tasty McRib, as depicted in foxbusiness.com

Not to be outdone, our local McDonald’s has already started selling the most delicious fast food item…here are my pictures from my order…

Why is it that what you order never, ever looks like the advertisement? Needless to say, my McRib tasted very good, which made me wonder if the advertised sandwich depicted above looks better than what I purchased and pictured, how is the taste? Better? As I contemplate these possibilities, I also envision that I might even venture out to find the Arby’s version, as they have advertised their latest creation, which doesn’t involve processed pork. I am a foodie at heart.

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Saturday morning. Autumn is here and the other rants of your host.

Happy Saturday! I cannot believe that October is almost over. Autumn is in the air because of the chill. We have had snow already. Many days it is in the mid 60’s, with the temperature getting below 40 at night. Horses need the overnight blanket, leaves are turning colors and Halloween is almost here. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Another year in the Land of Enchantment will have passed me by. Thirty one, but who is counting.

Have already been out this morning to get the typical Saturday breakfast when I have the kids. ChiliWorks burritos. One Jolly for me, and two Hawks (no egg) for the kids. A jolly is sausage, egg, cheese, potatoes and green chili. A hawk is ham, potatoes and cheese. All of this is placed inside a tortilla. Just delicious. My trusted companion, Jewel, came along for the car ride.

I had been thinking about entitling this post as the “ranting of a madman”, but thought the wiser. Sometime, every post that I write could be considered the rantings of a madman. As things stand, I have been very busy with work. Yes I am still at it although the thoughts of the next chapter resonate as each day passes. On some days, the call is louder and clearer than others. Soon, I tell myself, but even my closest a friends and coworkers are doubting me. The kids have completed almost a semester of school, and have done reasonably well in terms of grades. Mainly A’s, a couple of B’s and each has a C. For daughter it is economics, ceramics for son. My best friend from high school, who studied economics and now works for the Federal Reserve might have to come to her aid. As for son, not really sure how you can get a C in art class, but I might have to get my cousin’s wife out here since she is a now retired art teacher back in Pennsylvania.

With respect to work, I have spent the past two weeks in meetings with external visitors. By the middle of this week, I had already put in close to 60 hours; 60 hours and it’s Thursday. It never ends and this has been the norm for far too long. The start of the fiscal year should be a quiet time, even though the budget is dictated by continuing resolution. Planning and schedules completed. Work packages signed. NOT AT ALL. Not even a month and working on a BCP to adjust scope, schedule and budget to reflect changes. I cannot get my shit together. Congress cannot get it’s shit together. 

America cannot get it’s shit together. Mark my words. By Christmas, we will have experienced 8 years of OBama, 1 year of Biden, and they will have added 50% of the total federal deficit that it took almost 250 years to become $30 trillion dollars. OBama dropped the load and now Biden is preparing to flush! OBummer and OBiden, as I like to call them, continue to take the country in the wrong direction. Part of me keeps working, paying bills, saving money and not spending because the recession caused by the pandemic in terms of the government spending like drunken sailors will soon be upon us. A nation which makes less and less, cannot continue to spend and borrow like it has. At some point, the IOU’s will come due, and it will not end well. Wow, what I would gladly give now for a mean tweet and some Fox News…

As I write this, son is in the background trying to tell me ideas for Christmas. Daughter is off feeding Ruby and checking on Roman. Could be a very lean Christmas since COVID continues to warp the currenworld economic order. The supply chain is boats in polluted waters off the coast of socialist Commiefornia. The misery index is heading up, largely being moved by inflation. What would you expect with all the money being printed, nothing being manufactured here. Homelessness, urban decay and greed abound. The unemployment increases are not far behind. The dumbing down of America continues. Perhaps if America stopped importing crap and exporting jobs, we would be better off. Ahead I see hard choices, hard times, and significant challenges. America first was about fixing our problems and a stop at pretending that we can rule the world.

Daughter has returned. How are Roman and Ruby, I ask? As my daughter is often short in words, “they are good” is the reply. She grabs her burrito and runs off to her room, to watch YouTube and perhaps work on her homework. Son finishes his burrito and still wants more. So I get him his morning meds while he has an orange and some captain crunch with crunchberries. The pandemic has not been good for any of us in terms of diet. We get the occasional email from school letting us know of a positive test. LANL has terminated those who did not get vaccinated; and those who were granted religious or medical waivers are on leave without pay until sanity returns.

And on top of all of this, Joe and the Libtards want to singlehandedly fix global warming. As if they will get serious and actually work on the problem. Somehow I doubt that they will. Whether climate change is real or not, it cannot happen overnight. The mantra of hard choices, hard times, and significant challenges also hang true here. As for me, I’d like to see us plant many more trees, improve the wetlands, and nuclear power all they way. It is the only true solution to stop fueling our economies by hydrocarbons and other carbon-based materials.

And stop with the BS about migration because of climate change.

But damn, I still want my bacon, my car, and my steak. I also demand my guns and my freedoms as they are guaranteed under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So on that note, son tells me that I need to go to the store and get more milk. Happy trails, happy ranting, and God bless everyone.

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Today is August 1, 2021

Wow, it has been almost two months since my last posting. I’ll chock it up to laziness and not because of a lack of ideas. Another Sunday is before us. Time to rest, recover, and get ready for the next week. In the idea department, I have been working on three themes of late. So I have had to do research on the topics before putting them down. More on that later. As a trained scientist who still follows science, the complete lack of research on any topic makes it just an uneducated opinion. And of late, everything, from the daily news to whatever is just opinion.

In some ways, this blog is based on my opinion about things, from the subjects that I write about to the words that I use to convey the topic. Opinion is OK, so long as we agree to disagree. When it deteriorates from a difference of opinion to verbal harassment to physical abuse, then we have a situation that is not good.

And that my friends is where we find out country. We have a great many differences of opinion, but lack the leadership and the courage to compromise and move forward together. Certainly, as a society, we lack the art, the passion, or the will to compromise. Of late it has been one way or the other.

But this is not the subject that I care to write about today. Instead, what have I been up to since last I posted back in early June? Well the answer is, not much. I find myself still working, and working long hours, On the work front, I have come to a fork in the road. Simply, I no longer get the enjoyment from what I do, of that which I have done in various capacities over these 30 years. I long for the next journey in my life. It is one that I hope will keep my young and active for another 30 years.

I have been giving that a great deal of thought of late, thinking that it is time to embark on a new adventure. Plans I have a plenty. Execution has been limited.

Looks like it will be another mild and sunny day here in Los Alamos. Rain is again in the forecast, with the summer monsoons underway, bringing much needed moisture for the area. As for me, I slept in till 5 am, got up, made coffee, read some news and then went to feed the horses.

Ruby and Jasper were out standing in the mist that transformed into rain while I was mucking and feeding them. It was a very comfortable 58 F outside. Of course, the rain will certainly help my tomato plants that I have growing on the back deck.

My plants certainly are not growing tomatoes like the pictures that came with the plants. Thought about a garden in the back third of the stable lot but never started the necessary work to make that happen. So we will see how this summer goes in terms of whether I have a green thumb. Next year I can build some boxes for growing vegetables. Thinking that this may be one way to spend my time after I retire: taking care of the horses and growing some veggies.

The aquarium at the house with the final two fish, both whom are 5 years old.

Since it is just son and I this weekend, Saturday took us to Santa Fe, where we went to restock the aquarium. The pandemic certainly limited the options available from the pet store, but we managed to get six additional fish. So far, after 24 hours, they are all doing well. I hope that the two old-timers in the aquarium make the new fish feel right at home.

Daughter piled up some rocks during a family outing the other week to Durango, along the Animas River.

Took a family outing a few weeks back to Durango. One day was spent tubing the Animas River. Water was low and of a temperature that was just right. Fun was had by all. It is always good to get the kids out and show them things that I did from time to time growing up. Daughter was playing in the water and built this pile of rocks. Of course the pile of rocks reminded me of the RUSH Test for Echo album cover.

Cold IPA after one evening. Sitting on the hotel patio watching the Animas River go by. Very relaxing.

So school will resume shortly for the kids, in about two weeks. Both are vaccinated, but this new wave of the virus is certainly a cause for concern. We will probably wear masks, knowing that the county has a vaccination rate of over 85%, but it appears that the vaccine has its limits. Wore my mask at the grocery store this morning out of an abundance of caution. I typically take one with my to work, as it looks like the mask requirements will resume shortly. Of course, government could change things again and resume the lock down and bar gatherings and such. I am like most people and the idea of returning to work from home, staying inside, and the like will not be viewed favorably this time around. I have some travel coming up soon, and that will certainly be a topic for a later post.

And so, with this free-lowing update spanning several weeks since my last post, comes to an end with pictures of daughter performing yoga on a rock in the Animas, to your humble author and son in a hotel room in Durango, I bid you all good bye until next time. I will endeavor to do better and post more often. Have a great day, take a deep breath and enjoy.

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Today is Sunday June 12, 2021

Happy Sunday to all of you out there. It is another beautiful but hot day in northern New Mexico. The sky is blue. The sun is out. Slight breeze but in the upper 80’s with very little humidity. Monsoon season should soon be upon us. We can use the moisture.

…currently in New Mexico

Our air quality is poor today because of the smoke from several forest fires raging in the southwest. Several fires within 75 miles of Los Alamos have consumed almost 2000 acres of largely in uninhabited areas in the state. Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer and other trees, some plagued by beetles and drought are contributing to the smoke. One fire that has erupted in the past 72 hours is burning in the Pecos Wilderness. One can see the smoke over the mountains above Santa Fe in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I hope that the forest service can contain it because I recall fondly hiking there with friends for about a week over 20 years ago. Other fires are burning in Arizona so the summer fire season is here and in full swing.

Closer to home, daughter is at a horse competition today. Her first since before the pandemic. She is slowly getting back into the saddle, so to speak. She is on a loaner horse for the competition, and is planning to take an exam in a few weeks to increase her ratings for competition. This is like

Daughter in a dressage practice ride on Ziggy. The direction of the photo is due north. The clouds in the upper left corner of the photo are actually smoke from the fire in the Pecos Wilderness.

the third time she has rode Ziggy this year. If she does well in the competition today, that should help improve her psyche for the ratings exam in a few weeks. She rode him years earlier when she spent some weeks working at Goose Down Farms. She is there for the competition today and hopefully this weekend will help her find the motivation to return to more frequent practicing and riding this summer. It is a real compliment to her natural skills in that she can get on just about any horse and can ride, practice and compete. She loves it and it keeps her out of trouble. I’m ok with that!

Son is spending the weekend on some computer gaming site where they are also having a competition. I don”t know the what, where, why or how. But if it keeps him happy and out of trouble, that’s ok with me as well.

Today I find myself pondering several things happening in the world that impact my little world in northern New Mexico. We find ourselves in a hay shortage. Probably the result of the drought that the southwest has experienced over the past few years. Rain and snow has been limited over the past few years, which is making the drought conditions worse. It is dry, and our normal hay deliveries from southern Colorado will not start up again until late July. So now that we find ourselves with two horses, we find our barn short in hay. So yesterday I spent hours driving around and was able to eventually purchase some hay from San Marcos Cafe and Feed on route 14 (south of Santa Fe), after several stops at other establishments. True capitalism in action as it looks like the farmers drive their trailers there and just unload on a first come-first serve basis. Cost a few dollars more, but what hasn’t increased in cost since before the pandemic. Everything is going up in price: gasoline, groceries, clothing, beer, ammo. You name it. Companies continue to charge more for less. My Oreo’s and Chips Ahoy cookies now come in smaller packs, all for the same price. My Flonase allergy spray costs the same $44.99 but now I get 40-less doses for that same price than last year. And it comes in the same bottle with the same packaging.

Of course, I in my Honda Pilot (no trailer) had them stuff six bails into the back. The way I figure it, several of these trips and we can build up extra while we wait for the normal deliveries to resume. We have been told to expect about 20% LESS this year from our normal supplier in Colorado and so alternative sources will be better in the long run.

Jasper and fresh hay from the back of my car.

Needless to say, daughter was able to swing by after the competition and purchase an additional seven bails. That should hopefully hold us over until July, but we will continue making these trips to get more over the summer as it appears many of the suppliers, local farms and feed stores are low on hay and other supplies in general.

But the general lack of being short in many commodities appears to be true across the economy as the country recovers from the pandemic. Food, semiconductors, gas, and blue jeans to name a few. I have been trying to upgrade my clothes, as many of my jeans have holes in them and may not suitable for work. Unfortunately, I have been trying to do this at the end of the pandemic, and further, restricting my choices to Made in the USA. There are a number of vendors out there, and their ability to manufacture is limited. And while I am bothered by having to wait weeks, or even months, I am sticking to the idea of only buying things that are Made in the USA. As a nation, we need to return to making everything here. It may cost a few dollars more, but it is the right thing. Maybe our larger companies will return manufacturing back to America and then the economic prosperity and engine that drives this country will allow it to return to greatness.

I have also been thinking about all of the upheaval of the pandemic and how things suddenly became short in supply. To that end, I am stocking up on food rations, medical and other supplies, ammo, and general things to get me and my family through the apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse as

Stockpiling for the zombie apocalypse.

my son refers to it, or the pending economic meltdown that I fear is coming.

For me, that means doing more to take care of myself. Eating better, healthier, eating less and exercising more. After all, I tell the kids that I plan on living forever.

If we have learned anything from the pandemic, our government can only do so much to protect us. Evil nations will stop at nothing to tear us apart. If anything, the pandemic should tell us that even though we are one planet, we are not one nation, or one people. Rugged individualism is necessary to protect our families. There are stupid people in this country will stop at nothing to bring us down. Some of them are even elected representatives in our government. They do not subscribe to the idea of rugged individualism and only believe that government can do it all. It cannot. That is also a lesson that the pandemic should have taught each and every one of us. Our government continues to spend money that our children’s children simply do not have. We alone cannot solve the world’s problems and we need to stop acting like we can. We need to reverse thinking like that and take care of our own people. And if we can return manufacturing to this country, it will improve our overall economic outlook and make things better for us and our children.

As for me, I spent part of the weekend out and about, trying to see if the new normal is the same as the old normal. We are not there, and it is unclear to me if we ever will be, or if our politicians will allow us to return to the old normal. I will continue to explore this over the summer and write about it in future postings of TheMcKeeSpot.

The author and his favorite horse Ruby.

So with that, I bid you all a happy and healthy Sunday. Make it a great week and hug your kids, your family and friends and your pets. Until next time…

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Memorial Day 2021

Today represents the end of May. For the kids, in person school has ended for the summer and now they get to recover from the stress of school, the stress from COVID, and lockdowns. A feeling of hopelessness is replaced with a return to normal? I have received the vaccine. My daughter has received the vaccine. My son has had his first shot and the second one will happen next week.

For the summer I expect that daughter will get outside and spend her time riding. Hopefully she will feel a return to normal when competitions resume but that is compounded by having to learn to ride on a new horse. But I also hope that she spends time with photography and art. Son is a wee bit more of a problem in that his love is video games. Hopefully I can get him interested in some other things. I am thinking maybe some computer programming, maybe robotics, or flying his drone.

For me this is my summer to ponder the future. I need to finalize a plan and execute that plan. Work is changing and none of it for the better. I feel that stress and can no longer handle it. So it is time for me to do something else. As I have been contemplating the next cycle of my life, what will keep me occupied? What will keep me thinking? What will keep me motivated? Learning? Expanding? Old hobbies? New hobbies?

I was glad to see somewhat a return to normalcy when the New Mexico Gambling establishments (aka casino’s) have reopened. That said, I see that I still possess bad luck when I entered one yesterday for the first time in over 14 months. My losing streak continues.

For me, work has been normal for months as I have been in the office daily. In the past several weeks, I have been out for coffee, been to a restaurant to eat, had beers at a brewery with a friend. So I guess things are returning to normal.

Saturday. Out for beer with a friend.

Saturday was great. It was beautiful outside. The sky was blue, the beer was cold. The conversation was great. Most relaxed that I have felt in a long time. Laughed many times, got stomped in 80’s music trivia and after a few beers, didn’t dance on the tables.

Sunday. A walk and waiting for a coworker for morning coffee.

But the scars are long and deep. This pandemic makes no sense. It is clear that it started elsewhere. It is clear that governments failed to act, behaved selfishly, let it spread without consequence. The current clowns in charge of our government have done more in four months than a virus could to destroy this country in fourteen.

So for me, Memorial day is not just “a long weekend”. This is my second post of this holiday, as I posted in 2019. I just looked at that post as I was finishing the edit of this post. The picture below is almost identical to my post from then.

While it is a time to remember those who served and gave their life in the ultimate sacrifice, so too must we remember the calamity of the last year. We must understand why. We must understand why so we do not have to experience it again. If this was sprung as a weapon, then the evil that created it must answer for the crimes that they unleashed on the world. If it was natural, that must also be understood so as to avoid the pain and death that was inflicted upon the nations of the planet in a future event.

Monday. A display of the flag. Remembering those who sacrificed for our country.

So it has been a few weeks since my last post. I need to work on spending more time posting here. To that end, I have cancelled my Facebook account. Nothing gets me more angry than the garbage the emanates from the left. It is a stress that is manipulated by the left-leaning Facebook clowns who control what we think, what we say, and ultimately what we feel. I have a right to agree, or to disagree and to communicate my position. That is no longer a position that can be tolerated by the big technology companies. So I will stay away from them. I will not allow them to earn money from what I read, what I write, what I post. I pay to write this, to maintain this blog. As readers, you can choose to read, to comment, to return for something new, or not return at all.

I hope that everyone has a great day and that they and their loved ones are safe, health and secure. Until next time.

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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.