On January 7th the Old Men of the Mountain’s first breakfast of 2014 was at the Country Café in Schoharie, and it was cold. The OFs were talking about how cold it was and that most of the OFs have experienced colder weather than this but for some reason the air today WAS cold. One OF remembered the real temperature, not this wind chill thing, on the Hill was about 20 or maybe even 30 below. This, the OF thought, was in the mid 80s to early 90s. (With the OFs time is so irrelevant that they may say something happened a couple of years ago when in fact it would by more like ten years ago. So the 80s or 90s could be a tad off. )
Back to the conversation. “At that time,” the OF said, “The coldest temperature in the nation was announced on the radio to be in Canajoharie, NY.” This OF said on that particular day he was supposed to go to Utica, NY and as he drove up the Thruway towards Utica the OF noticed the highway was like a tractor trailer parking lot. All along the Thruway the big rigs were brought to a standstill by the fuel gelling, even with additives. This OF said he got off at Canajoharie just to see what the coldest temperature in the nation would be like. The OF reported it was no different than the 20 to 30 below on the Hill. When it gets that cold, cold is COLD! However, this same OF said that the cold walking up the sidewalk in Schoharie to the Country Café, was cold and he noticed it…Some OFs wondered if it was because back then the OF was about 45 years old, and now he is 80. “Well,” the OF said. Then another OF said, “We are not used to it we have not had a real cold snap like this in years.” “Whatever…” the OF was sure glad to close the door behind him as he went into Country Café.
This scribe is reviewing his notes taken at the breakfast, and the list runs from bottom to top, cars, kids, stories, pigs, cows, health, who you know better than what you know, and reporting the news. Much of that is redundant like cars, kids, pigs, cows, and especially health, which leaves the talk of who you know better than what you know, and reporting the news.
A little clarifier here, many of the OFs DO NOT watch the news, but when they do they find that the news doesn’t change. One OF mentioned that if he catches the news one day, and then does not watch it for a couple of weeks, and happens to catch it again it is the same news, just the names and locations are different. Another OF said if something really spikes his attention he will become interested and watch it until that event plays out. This OF mentioned the 911 attack on our country, and another news episode was the landing of the plane in the Hudson River. One a disaster, the other a miracle, and that is about it. One OF said that he gets really ticked when he does catch the news and can understand why people who watch it on a regular basis are so stressed out. Another OF made only one brief comment. He claimed that so much of the news is slanted one way or the other and the newscasters act like they are holy. Whichever way the station is bent they think they have the solution to the problem, when in his opinion they are the problem. “Conversely,” an OF commented, “I watch the news all the time. How do you guys know what’s going on? How do you know what the weather is going be?” “You believe those guys, I just look out the window,” said another OF. Give me a newspaper any day, get one paper leaning one way and another paper leaning the other and somewhere in the middle they just may be right and there is always the funnies to balance it out. Any way the paper bends the news “Pickles,” “Pearls,” and “Speed Bump” are great stress relievers.
Many of the OFs think this is too true. You might have the solution to solving the most demanding problem going, like curing cancer, or a propulsion system that does not require fossil fuels, and if you do not know the right people it goes nowhere.
One OF asked the rhetorical question how many of the OFs got their first job from someone they knew, or someone told you that so and so was looking for somebody to do a certain job. It was interesting how many wound up working at a job that in their formative years the OF was not even trained to do. Because someone recommended the OF and the someone the OF was recommended to had a matching karma, that OF turned out doing really well at whatever it was.
In college, it is quite often said, the contacts made are better than the education. “Yeah,” an OF said, “But even then if you are a wise guy and a slacker, that trait will come through and the contacts will not be worth anything because that is how you will be remembered.” “You’re right,” a second OF said, “I guess the real approach is to try and do your best all the time.” This OF said he wound up working at a position that was nothing like what he studied for and did very well. One thing the OF did in college was learn to adapt, and to study, and to retain what he studied. Life is funny that way.
Those gathering at the Country Café in Schoharie and having the Hungry Man Special, which should hold anyone for a week, were: Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, John Rossmann, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and me.