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On the February 4, 2014 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. For a brief few hours in the morning the sun shone and the OFs enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, though it was short. The weathermen, with their voices full of glee, were broadcasting a winter storm warning for later on this Tuesday evening into Wednesday the 5th. The OFs are happy they made the trip Tuesday morning up to Rensselaerville and the Hilltown Café. This cute little place, which was once an old school (and the school bell is still in the restaurant) is perched about 1650 feet up in the Helderbergs.

The OFs were ready to chew nails and spit rust over the bill increases from National Grid. The OFs say everyone should smell a scam from the beginning (they can). We have had much worse winters, and when Niagara Mohawk supplied our electricity none of this happened. Under NMP the prices were high, but in line with other utilities, and we had no ridiculous price hikes like what is going on now. “Yeah,” one OF said, “And with the ridiculous hike, comes the ridiculous lame reason.” A second OF opined that “One real reason is because Niagara Mohawk was an American company, and this National Grid company is English and they don’t give a rat’s patootie about the customers.”

Another OF said that coupled with the false claim of no product they (National Grid) can push through the hydrofracking by claiming if they had more product they would not have to raise prices. “BS”, he added. Then one OF added that the state isn’t saying anything because they are in cahoots with National Grid. The whole thing is a scam.

Still another OF believed that the natural gas suppliers have learned well from OPEC, and how the oil people carry on their scare tactics and false shortages to get the prices of oil up. Now with the price of oil joining the ridiculous category it is causing the price of everything to skyrocket, and the government seemingly goes right along with it.

“You got that one right,” one OF said, “Because when things cost more ─ and taxes are a percentage based on the selling price right down the line ─ the State and Federal governments rake in big bucks and they don’t care if gas is ten bucks a gallon, or a tire is five hundred dollars, or a crooked, knotted, 2 x 4 is twenty bucks.”

“We are in a catch 22,” one OG added. However, this OF thought we always have been in situations like this one way or another. This OF said the country has gone through this type of “spin” as long as he can remember, only today the numbers are higher which makes this time around more alarming. This OF continued that this might cause people to think about driving and building huge houses with 4 bedrooms for 2 people, and more bathrooms than a football stadium.

“Think that one through, Buddy,” said an OF, “You’re saying that then only the rich people can go see aunt Tillie whenever they want and the poor people would really have to plan, and maybe not be able to afford the trip if aunt Tillie kicks the bucket. The National Grids, the oil companies, and many banks don’t care about the people getting by on darn little, and throw in day care for families where both work and therein lies a bigger problem than I can get my little pea pickin’ brain around,” said the OF.

One OF said (and this scribe knows this has been said before) the OFs have lived in the best of times. This OF thought we should bring back Regan and Clinton ─ these guys knew what they were doing.
Going back to the power price hikes the OFs did agree they think this whole power situation is phony ─ there is no shortage. It is just a way to increase pricing and exploit the hydrofracking situation in favor of the gas business and to heck with the environment, or any other damage it may cause to people’s lives. Wow, how many sides can there be to a discussion this scribe wondered?

The OFs are of an age where they can just hang around the house if they want to…and many times that is what the OFs do. So what do the OFs wear while doing this strenuous activity? Some don’t even bother to get dressed until noon. One OF said that the invention of sleep pants is great; they are nothing more than a heavier fabric pajama, that doesn’t look like pajamas. “Heck, I even wear them out,” one OF proudly stated.

“I like sweats,” one OG said. “A sweat shirt, and sweat pants and I am all set,” he said. “Put that together with not even bothering to shave and the day is great,” the OF continued. “Well,” one OF answered, “I hope you BOTHERED to shower but knowing you, probably not.” “Showering is one of my favorite things, wise guy. I make sure there is heat in the bathroom, and the hot water heater is up to snuff.” “Maybe so,” the other OF came back with, “But I have been in your bathroom and all the towels are gray.” “I like gray,” the OF retorted.

The OFs have talked about getting dressed before and they consider this to be their daily exercise, but this time the OFs were talking about how they are finding they can put on one sock easier than the other and putting on socks is the hardest part of getting dressed. One OF said he finds he has to sit down now to put on his shorts and pants because when he raises his right leg to stuff it into his pants he feels like he is going to fall over, and he can’t raise the leg high enough, or it may be that he can’t bend over lower enough to the right. Going to his left no problem, he can slide that leg right in.

This was strange because many of the OFs go through the same thing only describing different body parts they are forced to use. One OF said when he puts on his coat it has to be on his left because if it is on his right he can’t get it on. Another OF said he has a similar problem with gloves. If he puts on the right glove first he has trouble getting the left one on, so he takes the right glove off, puts the left one on, and then puts the right one back on. This scribe pondered, are we all that weird?

A few of the OFs talked about the rat farm that used to be in Altamont. One of the OFs said he worked there, and another OF said his dad worked there, and another OF said his mother-in-law worked there. One OF said he thought some outfit in Ohio bought it but really doesn’t know what happened to it after that. One OF questioned if the new owners just opened the cages and let all the rats out.

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Hilltown Café, in Rensselaerville, and finding out that some other OFs got twisted around taking short cuts to find the restaurant (like an earlier car load did once) were: Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.

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