ramblings of a madman

My Second Post of the Year

My Second Post of the Year comes at the start of the third month of 2023. I have wanted to do better, and my list of topics continues to grow, but my time to devote on the writing has been short. Many topics beyond the normal ramblings of a madman currently populate my list. I notice that when the weekend comes, I find myself preoccupied with a great many things. And so, by Sunday, I just want to ignore everybody and everything. This leaves me to either read a book, vegetate on a movie or documentary, or even just sleep.

This weekend was no exception. Unfortunately, I returned from a week of travel and had much to catch up on. Saturday, I slept because I really don’t sleep well on travel. I ended up sleeping most of the day, after sleeping in. Needed to go to the grocery store as the house was out of food. Yet I slept and will defer that shopping, paying the bills, doing the laundry and general cleaning, until today.

This morning was quite productive. Bills paid. Taxes finished, but not yet sent. Sadly, this year I will be paying instead of getting a refund. Not surprised given Biden’s desire to tax everybody to pay for his progressive (socialist) agenda of illegals, climate change, criminal justice, reparations, student loans. Inflation is up, income is down, and I have certainly reduced my spending on things that I do not need or want.

Side note. Noticed a sign about highway construction upon my travel return, touting that the road construction was paid by his “Build Back Better” act. Odd since the construction started a year before his build back better bill was passed. Our governor was spending millions that she did not have upcoming to this past election, starting road projects that are still setting idle, years after the signs were put up, the orange cones were placed, lanes were reduced, and the occasional bulldozer was parked near the construction.

As I said, bills are paid. I still pay most of my bills the old-fashioned way. I get a statement, I write a check, I mail the bill. I do not like paying bills online. Every month it seems that I get a notice about this or that account having been “hacked”. They set you up with a service to view whether your information is being used, diverted, sold. They never pay you for your time to check your information, replace your credit cards, update changes, the sudden increases in unwanted e-mails. I want my privacy. That comes at a cost to me. One that I am willing to pay for.

Yes, I still balance my checkbook. Every few months, I order new checks. I go to the post office and get stamps. I have a supply of envelopes. I don’t save any money by not paying bills this way. I don’t save any money by paying bills electronically, either. The companies claim that it saves money.

Does it save them money? I am not sure. They just nickel and dime you. Every month it is something different. If not them directly, well then, they just past on the costs to you. My Verizon bill was two cents more this month than last month. Why? Because the State of New Mexico increased the state rural universal service fund monthly surcharge per communication connection. What is the state rural universal fund? Well, it is a broadband program that offers digital equity and digital inclusion in rural areas of the state of New Mexico. Not sure if my service gets any better. On a daily basis, I think about half of my cellphone calls do not connect. Over at Comcast, NBCUniversal will no longer include Peacock Premium with my Xfinity service at no additional charge. In other words, my HD Preferred Plus package will be going up in price with less service or an option unavailable. With everything going to streaming services, I am afraid that what I want to watch will cost me more what it’s all over. Stop watching altogether will become the end state.

Corporate America just continues to nickel and dime you. Amazon increases the cost for Prime, yet very few movies are available at no cost, and when did they last send a package with next day delivery? The credit card companies are the worst. The prime interest rate is less than 5%, yet your credit card interest is almost 17%. I pay my bills on time. And damn, I even paid my student loans! Should I not get a discount as a preferred customer? Of late, the balance is paid in full each and every month. OK, so you don’t want to pay electronically, well, we will send you the statement, but no envelope to pay the bill. But do you have to send a bill when the balance is zero dollars?

What I would like is one company to do all of my business. My banking and pay a decent interest rate on my savings. Instead of 0.1% interest, how is it that other places can pay 3%? 4%? Offer a credit card that pays what I actually cost them for interest because my credit is good. How about insurance? My auto insurance, my homeowner’s insurance, my other insurance has all seen increases this past year. Yet I have never filed a claim. Healthcare, the list goes on and on.

I have started to plan a vacation for later this year, thinking that I will spend more time locally, with weekend getaways. And I want to get out and do some camping this year! Concerts will probably be few and far between, but I am working on that list.

The world around us isn’t that much better. As I get older, I see that it is getting worse. I see that the world that I am leaving for my children is in decline. The war in Ukraine continues. America continues its increasing debt drive into becoming a third world country. In short, our leaders fail to hold themselves, and the people, accountable for the problems. The crash is coming, and I hope that people are preparing.

Of late, I have also found myself using Sunday as a day to cook meals for the week. As the cold and snow continues into March in Northern New Mexico, I see myself thinking about a making some chili for the week. Not the New Mexico kind with Hatch Green Chile but rather the Texas kind, with beans and veggies.

And so, on that note, it’s time for laundry and off to the store. May these words find you safe and healthy. Until next time.

the week in review

…tis the end of January 2022

Good morning everyone. I cannot believe that it is already the final few days of January. February is just around the corner. I have been awake for several hours now. Did some light reading than rose from bed to put a load of laundry into the washing machine. This has often been my typical routine of late as I try to figure out how to spend the day and the week.

Last week I found myself on travel. Work related, having to travel back east to Savannah River for a number of meetings. As with all travel that I have done of late, it completely disrupts my routine, resulting in the addition of unnecessary pounds for myself. Found full planes and no issues, delays, COVID or weather impacts. Masks required for planes, airports and some other locations. Largely not required for eating and drinking establishments in the state of South Carolina. Yes, the source of my extra pounds. Refreshing to see this, and old colleagues, and to think that we may be returning to normal.

Kids are back to school after their bout of COVID. Daughter resumed the daily care and feeding of the horses. I worry about son and how the past two years have taken much away from him. The whole on-line learning has not been good. How are we, as parents, to reduce his screen time from video games when school is now on-line? And it is not as if they are watching a video feed of the teacher in the classroom.

As for me, I remain lucky, knowing that it is just a matter of time before I too will become sick. We are told to follow the science but it has become more about politics and less about science. As with so many things about science in the mainstream anymore. Testing appears to be difficult to find. As a nation, I think we find ourselves weary of the pandemic. In talking with people, they are ready to return to a normal life.

I have to wonder how we can talk about normal in an environment where inflation is around and is impacting the cost of everything. People will want to travel but everything costs more, or is difficult to find, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. I know that I have cut back on my spending, trying to pay my bills, pay down debt, and save more. As I prepare for retirement, I watch the daily declines in the market. I see that my children’s college fund has also taken a hit. All of that makes me think that I need to work just a little longer.

But how much longer? This weekend I said bon voyage to a coworker and friend, who has left for a change of station. We had dinner and drinks Friday night and he dropped off a few things yesterday that he would have thrown out but didn’t want to waste. A couple of fishing rods, some laundry detergent, Kleenex, coffee, green chile vodka. His plans are to endure a year, maybe two in Washington and then to retire. As for me, its 31 years 1 month and 13 days. But who is keeping track? Sadly, I will miss our Sunday morning coffee cabals, or the occasional trips to the brew pub. They were great in that it got me out of the house, if only for a few hours.

Well it is a cold and cloudy 24 in Los Alamos as I write this. Jewel hasn’t had a walk in a week. While the kids did a great job of taking care of her with the feeding twice a day and letting her out for awhile, I am sure that she too could use a stretch of the legs. And so with that in mind, I will end this post and walk the dog. Until next time, stay safe, happy reading and be kind to everyone you meet. I have some Sunday reading to wrap up, some work related work to do and yes, begin that effort in which Americans refer to as tax time.


Away from home

I rushed to the airport this morning trying to get back home at a decent time to see my kids tonight. I had it all planned in advance. I had to get back when I planned. Sadly, I now find myself sitting at the airport, waiting six hours for my rebooked flight. If all goes well, instead of getting home by dinner, I am home by midnight. It’s not just my time or plans ruined. It cost my employer money because of added time for parking, meals, and since my flight gets into New Mexico after 9pm and then it’s two hours by car, I can actually stay in a hotel an extra night.

Really, you don’t have a spare plane that can reposition and get me on time? Maintenance really takes that long and you cannot shuffle flights so that I could get home sooner? It’s me so yes dammit I will be selfish. I have your app yet the technology that should of alerted me to these problems did not. It was experiencing its own technical problems so you said. Had I been alerted, I could have kept the rental car for awhile longer, returned to my meeting, or at least have enjoyed a nice restaurant away from the airport. Instead, I am here, writing about you.

Where I work, some call travel a perk. Others call it an unnecessary evil that comes with our jobs. I hate travel. Others love travel. My desire is to win the lottery with enough money so that I can travel on a private plane. You rebooked me and now I have a crappy seat. The other day I posted on my Facebook page photos at your hub, where you claimed to be making improvements with upgrades. I presume you think that these will make our travel experience better?

I think not. How is a reduced sitting area in the terminal improve our travel experience? How are places to line up based upon boarding improve my experience? You have already reduced our legroom. Perhaps you should redo the seats in the terminal to mirror the lack of space we will have when we can actually get on a plane.

When I checked in my luggage, I thanked the attendant for ruining her plans. It’s not her fault and I told her that. She agreed. Unfortunately she is the face that you put in front of me. She listened, I complained. I thanked her and we went our separate ways. Now my checked luggage is setting there, unlocked because the government searches it in the name of security. Odds are that it will NOT make it to my final destination. This is the voice of experience talking because I have been down this road before.

As I sit at the airport, I see the clouds rolling in. Yep, I am certain that I will experience additional delays this afternoon because of weather. My weather app tells me that there is a 70% chance of afternoon Thunderstorms by 4pm. Just about the boarding time for my flight from Augusta to Atlanta.

Hopefully I’ll get home based upon my revised itinerary. I’ll let you know. At least I’ll have my questionnaire that I will be sent by e-mail asking me about my experience. NOT!