On Tuesday, the 7th of February, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

This was a morning when the weather guys and gals were predicting some nasty winter weather but the OFs headed out anyway. Those that arrived had nice weather but when it came time to leave the diner the freezing rain and sleet had begun. The OFs that lived below 1400 feet had only the rain and sleet ─ those over 1400 feet had large wet snow flakes thrown in for good measure, at least in the Helderbergs.  The OFs are in the hills west of the Hudson so that is the geography the OF use as reference.

The OFs were wondering how National Grid comes up with the report they send out on how your use of electricity compares to your neighbors. The OFs said they look around at their neighbors and they see the neighbors have as many lights on as they do, only according to NG these neighbors are using less electricity.

One OF said his neighbor across the street is a graveyard. He said those guys really don’t use much electricity. His other neighbor lives there only part of the year so he does not use much. The other neighbor is a vacant building so of course he is using more than that neighbor. Another OF said three of his neighbors are on solar power and this OF wonders if his usage is based on a comparison with them. The point is the OFs don’t know what neighbors they are being compared to. One OF suggested there should be a little map with an arrow pointing to his place and little dots or something denoting what neighbor(s) he is being compared to. The report says it compares your home to approximately 100 homes of the same square footage as the OF’s home and uses the same type of heat. Many OFs say that is a lot of real estate to find 100 homes close to his home. The OFs look at this notice, found it interesting in a way, but still look at it and then say “so”.  The report says this OFs house is 1500 square feet and electrically heated.  He has never used the electric heat. In the beginning he used a wood stove, but converted to oil quite a few years ago. The OF said the wood had become just too much work.

One OF mentioned this notice from National Grid is a good idea.  The OF can use it as ammunition to show his wife that they are using too much power and she should turn off the lights when she leaves a room. The OF maintained his house is so lit up that planes use it as a beacon; it is even listed on aircraft routing maps.

The OFs discussed traveling to Binghamton or Oneonta prior to the construction of Route I-88 and after. Using Route 7 before the interstate was completed was interesting but took some time to get to places. I-88 did not do as much damage to the small towns along Route 7 as the Thruway did to the towns along Route 20. Many OFs say it is still faster to come from Syracuse to Albany on Route 20 than it is to use the Thruway. The OFs claim I-88 is only a late spring, summer and early fall road. It is a dangerous highway in the winter. A couple of the OFs said it is a dangerous highway any time of the year in bad weather. Some OFs said it is the wind, while another said it is the wind, but it is also the deer, and he continued with comments concerning the sun.   The sun never shines on the highway through some of the cuts in the hills that were made when the highway was built.

One OF thought it was not maintained as well as the Northway or the Thruway because there is nobody on it.  Another OF said that he sometimes thinks he is still in his driveway because there are stretches where he can drive for miles and be the only car on the road. “My kind of road,” one OF added.

This scribe mentioned the optical illusion for about 3 or 4 miles where the road appears to be going downhill when actually it is necessary to apply pressure to the accelerator to maintain speed because the road is in fact going uphill. The scribe also added the driver wouldn’t notice this if the car is on cruise control.

At one end of the table there was some discussion on where we come from, and are we really are who we think we are. Included in this was some discussion on Warner Lake and Thompson’s Lake.  The OFs said the fishing on Warner Lake was not as good as it had been in previous years. It could be the open winters one OF thought.

Then followed a dialogue when one OF was informing the other OFs how, after precise instructions were dictated by the manufacturer of his home, the foundation and yard grading had to be exact before they would deliver the home. The OF related that when the home came the trailer was moved into position and beams were laid; then one man came and pushed the house onto the foundation with one hand. This should have been a Kodak moment, or even a video moment. One OF said a bare house with nothing in it really doesn’t weigh that much.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, NY., ahead of the freezing rain and sleet, and whatever else was coming, were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Warren Willsey, Ted Willsey, (with Denise Eardley Ted’s private chauffer. If you have a Hilltown Willsey gene be prepared to have a long, productive life, so behave yourself when you are young because if you do anything stupid and go to jail for a life it is going to be a very long time.) Harold Grippen, and me.