Puzzling over the coronavirus’s effect on the stock market

Tuesday, Feb. 25, and already we can see the days getting longer, and the sun coming up a little earlier. This makes it easier to drive without those awful white lights in oncoming traffic making cars slow down, or even at times pull over.

An OF mentioned, “One of these mornings, I am going to run right into the back of one of these cars that slow down because they pull the maneuver so quickly.”

Even so, a whole gaggle of The Old Men of the Mountain (plus J.J., our favorite waitress’s helper) made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh for an informative gathering over breakfast.

One of the first topics of conversation was the coronavirus disease. The strange part was not how it is spreading so fast, or the quarantines, or how hidden the disease is, but how it has affected the stock market.

Those in the market, according to the OFs, are taking a serious hit. One OF said he has been through so many of these unsettling events in his 58 years in the stock market, somehow things always seem to work out, and if you can hang in there you will come out on top.

Another OF claimed he does not like the “air” money; he wants to see it and touch it so he plays with gold, and another OF said he was always broke so he doesn’t give a hoot, because he doesn’t understand it anyway.

“When I was in school,” the OF said, “no one taught us about money. We learned we should work hard and be honest and life would treat you well. The closest we came to money management was through the FFA [Future Farmers of America], and how to manage the farm.”

The problem with this disease is not just about money but how about getting sick? The OFs didn’t talk much about that before they jumped to something else.

Lots of stink bugs

The something else was bugs and insects coming out as soon as the temperature rises a tad. Some OFs have had spring flies in the windows already; others have had stink bugs. These pests are like when the OFs went through the period of earwigs all over the place; now it is rare for the OFs to see an earwig.

Where did these stink bugs come from? One OF said, when he saw his first one, he had no idea what it was, so he squashed it!

That was a mistake! Now he knows why it has the name it does, and like the rest of us he gently catches them in a tissue and flushes them down the john.

The question still remains: Two years ago, there were none around; now they are all over the place like the earwig. A little research showed that the stink bug was introduced to the United States from Eastern Asia in the mid-1990s. 

Also, you can reduce the number of these pests by spraying entry points with essential oil. Peppermint oil (smells nice to humans) or garlic oil (rumored to also keep out vampires) are two oils that will work.

Eye for eagles

To follow along with that, the OFs started talking about birds and animals we have not seen in awhile but which seem to have returned. Bobcats are one, foxes are another, and one OF mentioned just yesterday seeing two bald eagles flying circles around each other in the sky over his house.

As we have mentioned before, the OFs are seeing eagles, and now it seems they are almost as prolific as vultures (one OF said turkeys) but the eagles still have a way to go before they match how many vultures are around.

This brought up another story by an OF. The OF said he and his wife along with two other couples were in a restaurant (Maple on The Lake) when they noticed an eagle flying low to the water at Warners Lake. The OF saw the eagle drop his leg and extend his talons, make a sharp right turn, and just in front of the restaurant’s dock scoop up a fish and fly back the same way it came, staying low to the water.

The OFs wondered how the eagle spotted the fish, adjusted for angle of reflection, and nailed that sucker on the fly. All those calculations had to be made in an instant.

Then one OF asked, “How do they do that from 200 hundred feet up or even higher? They come down at 100 miles an hour at the right angle and grab a fish swimming close enough to the surface that the bird doesn’t even get wet. It is amazing.”

Animal compassion

This brought up some stories firsthand of animals showing a lot of compassion to their fellow species. One OF said that, during the winter, some geese boarded down in front of his place on Warners Lake on open water, but during the night it became bitterly cold and the lake froze over with a skim of ice. (This happened in the same area of the lake as the eagle story.)

Most of the geese were in water that did not freeze completely and took off. However, one goose’s feet were frozen in the ice and it could not free itself.

The OF said the goose flapped its wings and honked and honked. Then he said two geese came back and started pecking the ice all around the goose frozen in the ice.

Finally, the OF said, the goose was able to break free of the ice and took off with the other two. The OFs were wondering how did they know to do that? How many times have the geese been in the same situation?

The animal world is funny in a way; some eat their own, while others will die to protect their young. Go figure.

The OFs who were wondering all this were still glad they walk upright, and use their opposable thumbs. That way, they could eat a nice breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and enjoy the rest of the day, and those Old Men of the Mountain were: Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, George Washburn, special guest JJ, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Rick LaGrange, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Marty Herzog, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jake Herzog, Ken Parks, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.