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It was the 11th day of December 2012 when the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The OG’s missed 12/12/12 by one day by being there one day early. Too bad…that would have been a date to put a nick in the post for.

Anyone know what time of year it is? You got it, it is shopping season, so the OF’s discussed shopping and how most of them hate it. The main reason is because they have to shop…it seems to be a requirement. Why not buy something for somebody because you want to? Who cares what date it is?

If an OF spots something that his wife would like, or his grandkids, or his own kids and it is miles from their birthdays, and it is the middle of June, why not get it then so they can have it and use it…why wait? For example, it makes no sense to some of the OFs to see something that the wife could use, or perhaps she wants to buy it then. We will eventually buy it, but now we have to stash it someplace where she won’t find it. Then we will give it to her on her birthday, or Christmas, or Valentine’s Day. Why not give it to her when it is purchased so she can enjoy it?

One OF wanted to know when the special day rule was written and if you don’t follow this rule or if you break it are the gift-giving police going to come and slap the cuffs on you. This was approaching Bah-Humbug…for the special days…not the impulse to please someone with a special gift no matter when.

The shopping talk led to shopping period for groceries and the basic everyday-living items. One OF said that where he worked there were people that shopped every day because if they didn’t all they would have to eat was bread and peanut butter ─ if that. On the “Hill” the OFs learn to shop for weeks at a time and how to prepare for events like power outages, being snowed in for days at a time, and bad storms that disrupt travel ─ summer or winter.

One OF mentioned that they have oriental friends that many years ago showed them how to shop for supplies to last for a year in case of a real calamity. This OF gained knowledge of what to purchase and how to rotate it out. What will last for long periods of time, and require no refrigeration. They become skilled at how to rotate the stored water and also how to allow yourself two gallons of water per person per day. They learned how to use rain barrels to augment this water as it is depleted and there is no power to run pumps to replace it; to have an area with a wood stove, and enough wood to go the winter just in case. They were also shown how they could cook a carp on a wood plank; that fish was good, the OF said.

Talking about all this led to talking about general safety and having a gun and ammunition for hunting in case things became really bad. Being safe with a gun came up because the OFs have had two people they know shot so far this hunting season, and one person was shot up north (who the OFs didn’t know) all in hunting accidents. One of the people that the OFs did know shot himself in the butt with his own gun. Golly, that must have been a fun place to put on a band aid.

Then safety generally became the topic of discussion, and it lasted quite awhile. How many farmers and industrial workers the OF’s knew that were hurt on the job, and some who even died from these accidents. The OFs found that in all the cases they talked about there was human error or carelessness that caused these accidents ─ none were the failure of a piece of equipment. There were instances of guards being removed and not replaced, people not thinking when working with a table saw or chain saw, and then trying to do things the quick way and not taking the time to jig it properly. One OF said we all have done these types of things, and we still continue to do it.

The OFs started talking about accidents that we have seen and we thought (like we have said before) all the OFs at the breakfast are lucky to be there because we all have had some pretty close calls, and many have had accidents and gotten hurt. Most agreed it was our own dumb fault, but these incidents happen so fast most of the OFs never saw it coming. One OG said the government is trying to, either by law, or by insisting, that manufacturers install completely unnecessary guards and place so many labels on whatever you buy that accidents will be eliminated. The OFs say duh… no matter what you do, you can’t legislate stupid. One OF said the manufacturer can place so many warning labels on a ladder that the labels are longer than the ladder, then they give the ladder to a worker who can’t read…another duh.

Another OF said he didn’t want to be spitting into the wind on this one, but look at us OFs going out to buy a new car and the one we like is a thousand horsepower. The dealer is more than anxious to sell it to us because we have the money. That is like starting a chain saw and giving it to a six year old and telling him to go out cut some brush. With our reaction time cut in half, what the h… is any OF going to do with a car that has a thousand horsepower? The first thing the OF will probably do is drive it through the showroom window while pulling back on the steering wheel hollering WHOA!

Those OFs showing up at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown in their one hundred horsepower vehicles were: Robie Osterman, Bill Krause, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Otis Lawyer, Willard Osterhout, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Warren Willsey, and me.