A winter so long and cold

On March 3, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

Beware the ides of March, we are told. The ides of March, was March 15, way back in Julius Cesar’s time; however, other months had ides, which, in ancient Roman times, were the 15th day of May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other, shorter months.

The soothsayer told Julius Cesar to beware the ides of March, and we all know what happened then. How the ides of March became hooked onto the weather we don’t know; how that rodent became a foreteller of the winter is also in question; however, right or wrong, that snaggle-toothed varmint predicted six more weeks of winter.

This winter seems like six is going to be on the short side — to the OFs, it looks like 10 more weeks would be a better number. 

The OFs continued their discussion on the weather.  Part of this discussion was the amount of snow that is protecting the nasty ticks. This bit of information was in the newspaper and the newspaper said that this spring ticks are going to be on the severe side.

The OFs also mentioned the frozen water-pipe situation again particularly because Cobleskill is on a boil-water advisory right now — for the second time. One OF mentioned that the same reasoning about snow protecting the ticks may apply to snow protecting water pipes: The removal of the snow on the streets is what may be causing main water lines to freeze.

Snow is a pretty good insulator by itself. But, still, in many places, the frost is down quite far this winter especially where there is open ground. 

 The OFs are still blaming the weather people (who really have nothing to do with the weather we get) because of their interpretation of the “models” and “charts,” which causes all of the hubbub. Generally, the weather people are OK but, when they miss a big one, it generates lots of problems.

On Tuesday, the OFs complained about the use of the word “overspread” by the weather people.  Case in point: It is dry as a bone out and the weather people say, “Rain will overspread the area,” and the OFs say, not possible.

In order to “overspread” anything, whether it is rain, snow, salt, or pepper, there has to be a predetermined something already there. In this case, an arbitrary number of inches of water already has to be on the ground — it can’t be dry and “overspread.” In this case, rain will “spread over the area” until it reaches that arbitrary, predetermined figure then it can “overspread” the area.

One OF used the analogy of shaking salt on his eggs. He said when the eggs are served to him, he spreads salt on them, but, if the cap falls off the shaker, then he has really “overspread” his eggs with salt but not until he has “spread” as much salt on the eggs as he likes; that is the predetermined amount.  Anything more than that is “overspreading.”

Along with the cold weather, the OFs were talking about keeping warm. Those who burn wood, and planned on a historical use for them (on the amount they would require for a winter season), are finding that this year they are running low. Some of the OFs figure they may even run out so they are looking at some of the OFs who may have excess wood, or some they could buy, in case it arrives close to the point of running out and a cold spring.

A few of the OFs used to burn wood, but, as the OFs get to be older OFs, they have given it up. Burning wood is nice heat, but it is a lot of work. It is much easier to have the oil truck pull up and have the driver fill up the tank, and then all the OF has to do is turn up the thermostat and pay the bill.

Reading maps is becoming a lost art

Old maps were a new topic discussed by the OFs.  This is unusual because this scribe does not think this has been touched on before.

The maps the OFs were talking about were the Geological Survey maps. One OF said he had a collection of every section for New York State. That is a lot of maps.

Old survey maps of localities are interesting, one OF said, because they show houses that are no longer there. People who are serious bottle collectors can use the maps to locate these now-gone homes and use them for dig sites for old bottles.

Another OF said that, back at that time, many family cemeteries were around, and these old maps can also be used to find these cemeteries. Some of these old maps can be used for those that do gravestone rubbings as a hobby, and some for finding where Great-Great Uncle Harry was buried.

All the knowledge on how to read maps of any kind may soon disappear, unless you happen to be a Boy Scout or Girl Scout. Tuesday, one OF said, all you need is a global positioning system; it was added those things aren’t always right either.

High-decibel din

It was also noted at Tuesday’s breakfast that the chatter at the OMOTM breakfast is a tad on the loud side. One OF noted it is because, at the ages of most of the OGs, hearing is a problem, so the speech decibels have to be raised to be sure the person next to you can hear.

If each OF raises his voice so the people around him can hear, it becomes loud in a hurry at the gathering of OFs. This must drive other patrons in the restaurants nuts because, even though they might not have hearing problems, they have to join the shouting match so the ones they are with can hear.

What a cycle. The OFs who wear hearing aids say they aren’t worth a darn in situations like this and leave them home.

Those OFs who found their way to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh by using geographical maps from the 1940s and not getting lost were: George Sokol, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jim Rissacher, Don Wood, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.