On Tuesday, April 26, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. Fog and rain, snow, sleet, and hail do not deter the Old Men of the Mountain from reaching the appointed eating establishment for the week. This week was such a Tuesday — lousy weather — and we had a full house.

As the OFs report to the breakfast each Tuesday, they are greeted with a hearty “good morning.”  Sometimes the name of the OF joining the group is also greeted by his name (if he is arriving by himself) or maybe just a couple of OGs arriving together will have their names included in the greeting by the OFs who are already there.

The later the OFs arrive, the more “good mornings” are expressed. Most of the OFs being greeted have a reply, and some just wave.

On Tuesday morning, one OF came in and was welcomed with the round of “good mornings” along with his name. When all the greetings were done, the arriving OF replied, “To your misfortune I am here.” Now that was different.

Zeros and ones

Redundancy is something this scribe tries to keep at a minimum; however, this scribe is dealing with OFs and it is hard. At times, although the topic may be redundant, the approach is different, or the circumstances related to a topic are new.

That was the case with a topic Tuesday morning on technology and how much and how fast it alters the way we do things, especially for the OFs who did not grow up with the technology of today from the toddler stage in their life.

What the OFs talked about was the routine, low end of the work force that has been replaced by technology.  For instance, the OFs were referring to jobs like file clerks.

It took many workers to shuffle and file paper that was once necessary to keep on hand, but these records are now being taken care of by machines. Many of the people who are now titled learning-disabled but could handle this type of job easily are no longer working.

The OFs say that, no matter how hard many people try, they are just unable to grasp much of what is going on, but they are definitely not dumb or stupid. The OFs know many of these types of kids who have fallen through a crack large enough to sink an ocean liner.

One OF said that he did not mind all the technology; he maintained that things (for him anyway) are now so much better. Medicine, construction, solar energy, plus so much more are tons better thanks to those zeros and ones.

Then the OFs noted that many of today’s vehicles have so much technological garbage on them that has no real function in making the vehicle go, steer, or stop, which makes it more frustrating when something goes wrong like the Global Positioning System.

“Hey,” the OF said, “I know how to read a map.”

An OF added that, when the light comes on in cold weather to tell you your tires are soft, they may not be. Why do I need that thing when I can see if a tire is soft or not? Those things are more expensive to fix than a new tire.

One OF said, just put a piece of black friction tape over it and forget it. Another OF said that, if you drive a car that has automatic braking on the vehicle, as an operator of such a car, the OF would probably become so used to the car stopping by itself when that little feature failed, whoa — what happens now? — one huge rear-ender.

Yet another OF said he remembers when automatic transmissions came out (and electric windows, and power steering, along with power brakes, and tubeless tires), the same things were said.  He continued, “Go with the flow; give me all that new stuff. Anything that makes my life easier, I am all for even if it is nothing more than zeros and ones.”

Small engines, big headaches

The OFs also talked a lot about lawn tractors, small engines and lawn mowers. The gist of the conversation was small engines are not like tractor engines, or car engines.

The mechanics in the group all agreed that repairing small engines can be frustrating and regular mechanics do not even want to mess with them.

This brought up the new phenomenon of lawn-tractor planters. The OFs noticed in many yards, when a lawn tractor decides to quit, it is just left where it died and the homeowner trots out and buys a new one.

When approaching the tractor (left where it quit) the lawn is just mowed around it and there it sits as a piece of lawn sculpture, or a potted plant is plopped on the seat and it is now a planter.

Heartfelt condolences

In closing this week’s column, the Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their heartfelt condolences to two families of our members — the Porter family, and the Stevens Family on the loss of Pauline Gaige, and Donna Porter.

Mother and daughter who passed away within days of each other, both are now joining hands in the company of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a better place.

Flying Dutchman

Those OFs who arrived at the Duanesburg Restaurant in Duanesburg, like the crew of the Flying Dutchman materializing out of the fog, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Roger Shafer, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Duncan Bellinger, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, April 19, Primary Day in New York State, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and the OMOTM thought maybe this would be the end of the circus in New York, or maybe (as one OF mentioned) just the beginning. Ah, we shall see.

If only it weren’t so important.  Either way, there is a lot of fodder for the comedians but ain’t funny, Magee.

Then, as another OF said, we should look at the primary with some humor and then realize we have been through this many times and generally it all comes out in the wash. One added none of the candidates have done all they say they have done, or can they do everything they say they are going to do.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “all of them have graduated from the same school that teaches them how to fib and make it sound like the truth.”

“Well,” another OF said, “I learned that in kindergarten along with learning that I learned it is not nice to pick your nose, but I still do both.”

Fat wallets, small watches

The OFs next had a brief discussion on wallets and watches. Now everyone knows that to follow all the current fashion trends all one has to do is stand at the door of the restaurants the OMOTM frequent and notice how patrons are dressed, then go and do likewise.

The OFs have a variety of wallets.  Some are thin, and some are fat. The thin ones belong to the OFs who don’t have any money, and the fat ones belong to the OFs who are loaded

Either fat or thin, the OFs say that the wallet is the best place to put things that they can’t find later on. The reason some of the wallets are so fat is they contain gift cards the OFs forget they have, and notes and phone numbers that the OFs don’t know who they are from or who they are for.

One OF still has the picture in his wallet that came with the wallet and people think it is a relative. Some have an appointment cards in their wallets to remind the OFs of an appointment, only the appointment has come and gone.

We still haven’t found the money yet — only credit cards. One OF said his wallet is so fat that he leans to one side to carry it. He also said, if a pickpocket grabbed his fat wallet thinking he had hit the mother lode, he would really be ticked off.  Money is the one thing that is not in there.

Watches are another thing; most of the OFs, if not all of them, have not caught up to the latest fad of wearing Big Ben on your wrist. The wrist watches today are so large the OFs expect to see a pendulum and hear it chime the hour and half hour, or at least a miniature bird pop out and chirp coo-coo.

“Wine is like duct tape”

“There’s a Tear in my Beer” by Hank Williams Jr. may become the newest rebirth of a song along with the lack of beer because of the lack of hops. Craft beer, which is booming in popularity now, is using between four and 10 times the amount of hops that industrial-scale brewing uses and this is causing a major hop shortage to develop.

One of the OFs, as we have reported before, is a hop farmer. The hop-house may be coming back on many farms; also, growing barley may make a comeback. It would be great to see some of the land that has grown up to brush be put back to use again and some of the small farms be able to produce a product they can sell

Drinking and driving may be the next farmer mantra, corn for gas, hops and barley for beer, grapes for wine. Help your local farmer; please drink and drive will be the next bumper sticker.

One OF said that will not only help the farmer, but also your local undertaker, and body shop. The OFs really know how to stimulate the economy while stemming the population growth.

It is not only beer that may help the farmer but also wine. With the new interest in wine, especially New York State wine, grapes are now in demand.

“There ya go,” one OF said. “After a tough day, a bottle of beer, or a glass of wine sure takes the edge off.”

Then another OF noted that he saw a very true sign (for him anyway): “Wine is like duct tape; it fixes everything.”

Fishing without bait

This spring has been a spring of contrast. The peepers chirped at night, the birds sang in the morning; as one OF said: Then came the cold. Real cold. Then the sounds of spring became just like winter silence.

One OF said, “Did you ever notice how quiet winter can be?” Not the spring and summer where this OF lives — it is like living inside a bird sanctuary that can be akin to a factory.

He went on to say, “Those feathered fowl can make an awful racket. Then add the peepers (thank goodness they only peep for a short while) and, when those nickel-sized frogs stop their peeping, then the singing insects start wailing their songs, or strumming their legs, and others do whatever they do to make a noise all of which adds to the evening’s din and I am trying to sleep. Oh the silence of winter, I miss that,” the OF mused.

One OF was all tanned up from fishing on the river all weekend. This OF said he fished, and he fished, yet caught only one fish.

Another OF said he thought that is what fishing is all about, just being out and away from it all. Who cares if you catch anything?

Still another OF chimed in to say that, when he goes out fishing, that is what it is all about, just being out, away from it all with a few beers. “Heck,” he said, “When I go fishing, heck, I don’t even bring bait.” Now that is what he calls fishing.

Those OFs who made it to Your Way Café in Schoharie, after telling the wife they’re going out to breakfast with guys and then going fishing, were: Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer (all tanned up), Henry Witt, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.   

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On Tuesday, April 12, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the County Café on Main Street in Schoharie.

Here is another weather report from the OFs. Those on the Hill talk about a mighty wind that blew through the area and where hail came down for a brief time so hard that it was at a 10-degree angle to the Earth before it struck the ground.

After the hail came the rain. Then, on the news, the OFs saw the damage done by what was a comparatively local blow. The weather guys never saw that one coming or told the OFs to batten down the hatches.  

The OMOTM sat in the comfort of the County Café enjoying the aroma of breakfast being made in the kitchen and looking out the window across the street to the Schoharie County Courthouse where trees are down and the park is gone. Construction is underway to build a hydraulic dike to keep the water from running into the courthouse when there is another flood.

The OFs say what a shame to spend all that money and ruin all that real estate when the OFs feel it would be less expensive just to add another floor to the courthouse if they need the space; subsequently abandon the basement and first floor.

But nobody asked the OFs. Some of the OGs can just fall out of bed and be at the County Café so it is not like the OFs are outsiders butting in.

The OFs discussed the location of the county jail and that is another bone of contention where (in the opinion of the OFs) the opinions of the residents were ignored.

This led to other topics that are generally no-no’s at the table: Politics and religion. That is the general heading of the conversation but it wasn’t explicitly on religion or politics.

Is God having trouble finding people to call?

Discussion was how the attendance in many organized faiths is dropping off, and churches are combining services in one church and closing others.

In some faiths, according to the OFs, it is a combination of the lack of attendance, and fewer young people showing interest and this trend is causing a shortage of young people going into the ministry.

This made one OF think, if it is God that calls people to the ministry, is God having trouble finding people to call, or is he calling them to minister in the church of “What’s Happening Now?”  Or is it that the traditional churches are so wrapped up in adhering to tradition that they are failing to minister?

Lacking presidential material

And, as for politics, the OFs at this scribe’s end of the table had no idea who they are going to vote for. The OFs felt none of those running to be the nominee of their parties were presidential material.

One OF said that, no matter which party took the White House, the OFs could look for, “A crow in every pot, and bicycle in every garage.”

None of the OFs could remember such a circus as there is now for an upcoming presidential election. It was more or less a generic opinion for the OFs that, with all the name calling and mudslinging going on among all of those running, how could anyone trust any of them?

The scariest words to hear is someone who says, “Trust me.”

One OF wondered who would want to run for president — their lust for power has to be great and their hide has to be as thick as a tank so that they can deal with the press, and all the negativity that is thrown about.

Oh, well.  None of the OFs are running for office anyway so it is all moot. Then again, maybe the OFs should run as a group and maybe something would get done.

The OFs thought that, if enough people wrote in “Mickey Mouse,” maybe Disney could run the government and the whole country could then live in fantasyland.

Bionic men share trials and tribulations

The OFs continue to become more bionic. One OF is going in for knee replacement; another is going for facial repair.

It is interesting to see how fast the medical profession is progressing in replacing people parts — not only organs, but joints too.

One OF had shoulder work done maybe 10 or more years ago; lately, one of this OF’s shoulder started acting up. The OF went to the same doctor who performed the procedure originally and, when the doctor saw the OF and the X-rays, he told the OF, “Oh, I don’t do it that way anymore — I don’t cut, or use screws like that. I use lasers.”

He didn’t offer any condolences to the OF either.  In fact, the doctor said, “You’re too old, suck it up; I will give you a shot.”

The OF said at the breakfast “Well, that shot lasted about three weeks.”

The OF going in for the knee operation might have the procedure performed with current technology, and the ways of yore may be long gone for how it is done now. The OFs wonder, at the rate medicine and technology is progressing, what medical procedures will be like in 50 years from now to replace a hip or transplant a heart.    

OFs in office

The OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie, and who think it might be a good idea to write in OFs for president, were: Miner Stevens president; Glenn Paterson, vice president; Mark Traver, secretary of State; Chuck Aelesio, Federal Bureau of Investigation director; Mark Traver, secretary of Defense; Harold Guest, press secretary; John Rossmann, secretary of the Navy; Roger Chapman, secretary of  Homeland Defense; Bill Lichliter, secretary of Treasury; George Washburn, Federal Aviation Administration director; Robie Osterman, secretary of Transportation; Lou Schenck, secretary of Communication; Jack Norray, secretary of Interior; Gerry Irwin, secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency; Matt Farnam, United Nations ambassador; Ted Willsey, secretary of Labor; Mike Willsey, secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Bob Fink, secretary of Education; Bob Benninger, secretary of Energy; Jim Rissacher, secretary of Health and Human Resources; Elwood Vanderbilt, secretary of Farm and Home Management; Gerry Chartier, chief of staff; Harold Grippen, secretary of Veterans Affairs; and me, chief dog catcher.

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Tuesday, April 5, was a tad unusual. The Old Men of the Mountain headed off to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and it was cold.

Some car loads of OFs reported temperatures as low as 10 below in Gallupville, and 7 below in Schoharie. All the car loads of OFs spoke about the scenery along the flats of Fox and Schoharie creeks as being in a Disney movie.

The trees glistened white covered in either frozen fog, or hoar frost. There were stretches of thick fog as the OFs approached Middleburgh where the creek and the highway are close together.

The fog rolled along the ground but most of the time the OFs were able to see over this blanket of white and, out of the blanket, the white trees and shrubs rose from the fog. Unusual to see and drive through, it was a very short scene — sleeper-inners missed all this.

Throw-away society

The OFs talked about how we are continuing to be a throw-away society, at least in this country, and maybe worldwide. The OFs talked about tools and appliances that they used to have fixed and then continued to use.

Today, many items, if they fail, or won’t work, the stores do not try to fix them.  They just grab a new one from the shelf and take the old one and send the OF on his way.

There used to be mom-and-pop repair shops all over. If the TV didn’t work, the repairman would come to your home with his toolbox and truck full of parts and fix the broken item. Now there is no fix to it; whatever it is, it is scrapped and the OF gets a new one, or a discount on a new one.

The OFs remember going to the store called Lake Electronics in Albany that had parts to fix just about any appliance.   If the OF knew how to use a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a soldering iron, he could fix just about any appliance with parts from Lake Electronics

You could also go to Wards or Sears and get parts to fix most appliances, lawn mowers, weed whackers — you name it.

Even a little further back, when the OFs purchased a car or truck or tractor, a set of tools came with it, so the OFs or anyone else for the matter, could fix it. Some cars, trucks, tractors, equipment, and appliances gave the option to purchase spare parts that were just part of preventative maintenance.

The manual that came with the appliance would also include a maintenance schedule that would advise when these parts should be installed. One OF said that even these days some of the small, cheap models of cars are throw-away vehicles.  It’s less expensive to buy a new one than have the old vehicle repaired.

Whatever happened to the no-call list?

The OFs were wondering if the no-call list is still active. The OFs were complaining about the frequency of robo-calls that seem to be interrupting their day.

Many heads nodded in agreement as this subject came up. The OFs said that some are receiving as many as 10 a day.

This scribe thinks that 10 a day is a throw-out number because he did not know of any OF who puts a tick on the wall each time the phone rings and one of these calls come in. However, even the scribe has noticed an increase in these types of calls and the scribe is supposed to be on the no-call list as well.

Politicians were sneaky enough to eliminate their calls from the no-call list. Almost all of the OFs claim that one way for a politician to lose a vote is to call many of the OFs.

An OF said he could have his head and half his body under the sink fixing a faucet when the phone rings. The OFs said he may be expecting a call from someone to help, so then he unwinds himself from under the sink and answers the phone.

It is a political call from some young supporter working the phones. Many of the OFs were in the Navy and that young supporter may hear words they never knew existed.

Too old for the chase?

As the OFs get older, their minds tend to become younger and they think they are 40-something. Some purchase new boats with 150-horsepower engines; others purchase a Mazda Miata; and one OF (who should know better) just purchased a new, or almost new, Trike (three-wheeler) motorcycle.

The next thing you know, some of the OFs will be chasing younger women. These OFs won’t catch them though, even if the young damsels are running away in spiked high heels, because the canes of the OFs will get in their way and trip the OGs up.

Hot topics

The conversations at last Tuesday’s breakfast covered a number of hot-topic items: the gun law, the $15-an-hour wage, paid leave, and the five-dollar charge on all insurance policies imposed by the state to pay police for issuing tickets.

Last year, the insurance companies on the OFs’ behalf paid into this fund $125 million so the police can issue their tickets. The OFs’ opinion is: We are paying for our own tickets

One OF said, “Well, if we weren’t breaking the law we would not get a ticket; we would just be out 5 or 10 bucks — or maybe a little more.”

Condolences

We must mention the passing of two of the OMOTM and offer our condolences to both families. The older members of the OMOTM will remember Stephen Torok, and Howard “Skip” Skinner who both passed away the week of April 3.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh and, as the old saying goes, if the OF catches what the OF is chasing, he wouldn’t know what to do with her, were: George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Ed Traeger, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and  me.

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The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in the village of Middleburgh on March 29. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 16 years since the world was supposed to come to an end, all the computers were supposed to crash, and the second coming was supposed to occur.

The OFs’ first discussions were about the winds during the early morning hours of March 29. For our area, it was a blow. For all the howling of the wind, the OFs did not notice many trees down. There were some smaller branches and a few larger dead limbs or small dead trees down but nothing to write home about.

If any of the OFs have had the experience of being in a hurricane, no OF in the hearing range of this scribe mentioned it.  What an experience it must be with winds double the speed of the night we had on March 29.

What happened to March going out like a lamb? Maybe the timing isn’t generic.  The timing is definitely March 1, and the 31, so the 31 may yet be tranquil and warm so the ole saw will fit.

The OFs did mention being on cruises in high seas, and both of the OFs telling tales of what went on was like the OFs were on the same cruise at the same time. However, the times were different and the departure cities were different.

One left from New Jersey, and the other from Fort Lauderdale. The similarities were uncanny. One OF said that the ship was shuddering from the pounding of the waves that were hitting the ship as high up as the sixth deck. This OF said that after the storm abated the ship continued on and completed the cruise.

The other OF said that on his ship the waves were washing all the furniture that was on the decks off the fantail, and letting the sharks have the tables, chairs, umbrellas, and all that stuff for their next picnic. This OF said that there was a water spout off the port side of the ship that sent out two huge rolling waves

The ship went up on the first one and started back up as the next wave hit the ship and sent it back down. The OF was not familiar with the group of people he was standing with but all of their knees buckled and all of them went to the deck.

The casino was closed, the deck doors were locked; it was quite a ride. The engines were disabled, and the mechanics managed to repair one and eventually they limped into the Bahamas, turned around, and went back to Fort Lauderdale with one engine. The OF said that on the return trip the ocean was as flat as a table top — not a ripple in it.

These types of adventures the OFs can relate to. Certain events the OFs use to date other events, like using the phrase “Oh, that was right after the cruise we took to Timbuktu,” or something like that.

The description of “barf bags” everywhere, hanging on the railings and over the backs of chairs is why both OFs thought they were on the same boat. One of the OFs said they thought “The Poseidon Adventure” was not that far fetched.

The natural segue was travel by air and some of the experiences the OFs had on that means of travel. This scribe noticed that all the stories (both boat and plane) were of when things went awry. The tendency to keep in mind all the traveling, where on the trip everything went well, the OFs did not remember much.

Bugged by bugs

A common conversation among the OFs is their current health condition. These are not pity parties just stating the facts of life for the over-75 crowd. These conversations are generally quite short.

At the breakfast Tuesday morning, it was found that many of the OFs have been battling this cold/flu/allergy bug that is going around. The OFs found that apparently this is not a local bug.

In talking to relatives up and down the East Coast, many have the same problems. What makes this interesting is one OF’s description of it. It is rare for this particular OF to not be present at a breakfast and he did miss one.

This past Tuesday morning, he said he had the “two-pail flu” and is still weak from it. For those who have had or are in the process of going through it, it is not over in a week or so.

The OFs who have had it probably still have vestiges of the nasty bug, because this bug hangs on for weeks and weeks until it can find another home. Some OFs think the bugger comes back. (When did bugs come to be associated with colds, flu, and a variety of other ailments?)   

The mysterious “S”  

The OFs mentioned Warner Lake this past Tuesday and wondered where the “S” comes from on some of the spellings of the lake. There is no “S” on Warner Lake, just like there is no “S” on Wal-Mart.

Many people will say “I’m going to Wal-Marts, which is wrong. Well, this is the end of this week’s report from “The Old Men of the Mountain” — not Mountains.

The Old Men of the Mountain made it to the Middleburgh Diner, where the waitress made an announcement that a waitress from another restaurant wanted to say “Hi” to the OFs. The OFs who were at the Middleburgh Diner said “Hi” back and the OFs are glad we make a favorable impression, and those OFs were: John Rossmann, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Don Wood, Roger Chapman, Marty Herzog, Miner Stevens, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ed Traeger, Jeff Ward, Dave Porter, Gary Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.  It was good to see Gary Porter at the table this morning.

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