On Dec. 17, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. On such a cold day, the restaurant was inviting.

The OFs agreed that the ride to Rensselaerville was like driving through a Christmas card or a winter photo on a calendar; then they were all rewarded by a warm start-to-the-day breakfast.

The riders in one car reported that on the trip up to Rensselaerville — and Rensselaerville is up — the temperature changes in just the few miles to get there. The outside temperature gauge showed one degree when starting out, the OF said, and, as they approached the dip between Thompson’s Lake, and Cole Hill Road, the temperature dropped to 13 below zero.

As they made the turn on Cole Hill, the temperature was up to seven below, and, by the time they were on the top of the hill, the temperature had risen to 2 degrees above zero. That change is in the mere distance of approximately four or five miles and an elevation change of about 400-plus feet (that is only a guess).

Many years ago, there was a ski area on Cole Hill with a rope tow to the top. The OFs thought it was a Farmall H, jacked up a tad and it had a rope around the rear tire that was the drive for the rope tow.

Old wooden skis, rubber boots (i.e., barn boots for many of the OFs, with felt liners) and leather buckled bindings on the skis buckled around the boot.  Then the OFs tightened them up and down the hill the OFs went.

The OFs did not have ski outfits; the only cost was a pair of wooden skis, and the rest is what the OFs had in their closets. Today, to be fashionable on the slopes costs as much as a good used car, and, as one OF said, he bets we had more fun.

The OFs wondered if there were any vestiges of that little ski trail left. Those who travel the hill say they don't think so because they are pretty sure where the trail used to be is overgrown into trees now. Times change and sometimes, time change is not for the better.

“Unteaching” the old dog

The OFs are having as much trouble keeping up with the technology advances as everybody else.

One OF said he has the newest gadget going and says it is great.  It is some kind of tablet that takes pictures, answers the phone, makes apple pies, and scrubs your back all at the same time.

One OF said, “Yeah, that is for today; tomorrow, it will be something else.”

The OFs thought that the end of the telephone party line was the ultimate in technological advancement.

The familiar ding of the typewriter as it reached the end of a line alerting the typist he had to slide the lever over to go to the next line, then along came IBM’s Selectric typewriter and the lines changed by themselves.  The world was going crazy, the OFs thought.

The OFs thought for years there were just 72 elements in the periodic table and that was it; now look, they (whoever they are) say there are 118 elements. The OFs say, if you change the 72 to 118, why not change it to 218.

One OF said it is not the teaching the old dog, it is the “unteaching” that is so hard.

Getting there

The OFs were contemplating outer space and getting there and the OFs had a hard time comprehending that latitude and longitude, as the OFs once learned, is not right for space travel, and NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, uses something else.

One OF said he has enough trouble heading to Aunt Tillie’s house and arriving there and she is only one hundred miles away. It is amazing to him that the astronauts can go to the moon and land right back where they started from.

“Yeah,” one OF mentioned, “and, if they can't make the initial starting point, they just recalculate and proceed to site number two.”

Those OFs who did not study navigation are envious of those that know how to navigate by the stars, or how to navigate with maps using the latitude and longitude that the OFs know. The OFs who can't read music are in the same mode, envious of those that can.

Road trip

down Memory Lane

Most of the OFs have new or newer models cars, trucks, and vans. A conversation started on how the newer cars drive themselves, and this scribe noted we have been down this road before. (No pun intended.)

The OFs have driven cars and trucks in their early years where it was necessary to place your feet in the right place when the OF entered the vehicle because the road was visible through the rotted out floor board. Fumes from the engine wafted in underneath the vehicle, but not to worry — there were so many other holes in the older vehicles that the fumes did not cause any harm. The fumes just found another hole to go out of the car or truck.

In these vehicles, the engine sounds were right in the car with you. The OFs could tell how ole Betsy was running just by these sounds.

Today, the cars run as quiet as the morgue. The engine runs effortlessly and the next thing the OF knows he is going 70 miles an hour when, in his youth, 50 miles per hour was exciting.  Today, 70 is like having coffee in the living room.

One OF asked the question that is quite often asked when the OFs travel back in time:  “So, do you want to go back to these old vehicles, with heaters that didn't work well, no air-conditioning, mechanical brakes that could freeze, no power steering, having to carry a spare tire or two, and rides that were like wooden wagon wheels going over farm roads?”

“Not really,” one OF said, “but back then at least I was able to fix the car on the side of the road. Cars came with tool kits, remember.”

One OF remembered his brother and he going someplace, and they had the family vehicle, which happened to be a Ford sedan.  Back then, Fords had only one spring in back that went side to side.

“This is an important point,” the OF said.

The OFs picked up their girlfriends and started out. On Route 443, between Gallupville and Schoharie, the rear spring broke. Not far from where it broke was a small junkyard-type repair shop. The OFs pulled in there and explained their problem to the proprietor.

“Yep,” he said, “I have a spring.”

The OFs said, “Great, we can fix it right here.”

The proprietor said, if they could do that, he would give them the spring. The OF had a rather strong brother, who actually was able to lift the car. The OF said they had the old spring out and the new one in less than half an hour.

The proprietor was true to his word and gave them the spring, and he said, “If I didn't see that I wouldn't believe it!”

“Try doing that with one of these new cars,” the OF said.

The OFs who made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and who found that Amanda was the only one there (she waited tables, prepared the food, bussed the tables, and kept the coffee cups filled) were: Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Gilbert Zabel (Elwood's grandson), and me, happy.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. This scribe showed up around 7:30 a.m., and there were already a group of OFs at the Home Front.

These OFs must have busy days planned (at least some do) because they left after a normal time for breakfast, while some of the OFs that were the first ones there were still there when this scribe left, and the scribe remains until the late-comers show up.

Those OFs are having a lot more than a leisurely breakfast; they appear to be hanging around until lunch time. This scribe is beginning to wonder if the wives have told them to get the heck out of the house and not come back.

We continued with one of the favorite pastimes of the OFs — going to the doctor.

One OG mentioned that he is having eye problems and the ophthalmologist’s assistant (whatever they are called) was checking the OG’s eyes. The OG said he has a problem with one eye and the problem is, when light hits it, the OG has to blink quite often. So this assistant is pointing a bright light into the bad eye and telling him not to blink.

Duh, that is part of the problem, and the assistant became irritated because the OG was continually blinking.

The OG said, “What did she think?  I was doing it on purpose?  I can understand English, and was trying like heck not to blink.”

Then an additional OG said, “Didn't she put one of those clamps on your eyelid to keep it open because the blinking is involuntary?”

“Nope,” the other OG said.

This is the same thing as going to a doctor with a sore back and the doctor tells you to stand up straight. This is another “Duh.”

“If I could,” the OF said, “I would.  That is why I am here.  I can't stand up straight.”

One OF then opined that there should be some kind of drug that can be administered that would relax the patient so the doctor would be able to push and pull without causing pain that raises the OF’s body off the doctor's table.

“Yeah,” one other OF said of doctors’ tables, “those things should be heated, too. They are so darn cold that, whenever I lie down on one, everything shrivels up to nothing and sometimes I even start to shiver.”

One OF thought the doctors do all this pushing and twisting to see how bad the problem really is, because, if they really wanted us relaxed when we went into the examining room, all they would have to do is give us a joint to smoke in the waiting room before we went in.

Then we would be so relaxed they could twist anything they wanted and we would think it was just a handshake.

“After puffing on one of those,” another OF mused, “when they say, ‘Stand up straight,’ you would snap to attention just like a Marine in basic training.”

Replaced joints don’t dance well

The OFs don't know how many out there are square dancers, but many of the OFs were. The Hay Shakers, The Silver Bullets, The Altamont Station Squares, and The Foot and Fiddle were a few of the clubs that the OFs belonged to.

Before that, when the OFs were YFs and were real stomping square dancers (i.e., eastern style) many OFs/YFs went all around the area to square dances.  Popular places were Pat’s Ranch and The Grange Hall in Gallupville, and there was also a site in Clarksville that held dances.

Many fire halls would hold dances and put on buffets to go along with the dance. Good, clean, wild (sometimes a tad more wild than necessary) fun.

The OFs would gather up their girls and a bunch (bunch is used literally here) of YFs would climb in with anyone who had a car that ran and head off to a dance. Sometimes the guys would head out alone, and hook up with someone there and fill in a square.

Farm boys having fun. When the OFs were YFs the music was live — Perley Brand and Bill Chapman had bands, to name a couple of them.

Today, many of the OFs said they would still square dance only their bodies won't let them.  Too many hips, knees, and shoulders replaced both on the OFs and on the spouses of the OFs.

That really puts a crimp in square dancing when it is impossible for the OFs to raise their arms or stomp their feet. Tough to "duck for the oyster, dive for the clam.” or "swing that girl,” or "form a star,” or "allemande left, back to your partner, right and left grand."

Try doing these when the OFs’ shoulders are fake, hips are fake, and knees are fake, and all these maneuvers are done at a slow jogging pace.

Cooking connoisseurs

This brought up another strange phenomenon — cooking. Many of the OFs are connoisseurs of cooking, someone else’s that is.

Many have trouble boiling water. Most of the time, the OFs find that others’ cooking is pretty darn good. But there are times when an OF will run across some cooking that puckers the mouth, and causes an immediate gag reflex.

One OF related a story of such an occasion. This OF said that he used to love rhubarb, and strawberry-rhubarb pie until one day he bought one from a church sale. (Said church will remain nameless although mentioned in the dissertation by the OF.)

The OF said one bite brought tears to his eyes; it was the most horrid taste he ever had. He thought it might have been him so he gave a bite to his wife, who had the same reaction.

That pie was immediately designated for disposal in the nearest trash bin. The OF mused that he didn't even think the rats would eat it.

The OF also added that, when this particular church has a bake sale, he still won't purchase anything there because he is afraid he would get something baked by the same person.

Another OF related a similar experience at a square dance (strange connection here with the segment a few paragraphs above) and the club had its pie night. At the break, a group that came together took a pie and, as each one in the square took a bite, they walked in unison to the trashcan and scraped the pieces of pie into it. It was another mouth-puckerer. Almost like a get even thing. (Ask me to bake a pie for your stupid dance, will ya; I'll fix ya, and I will leave out the sugar.)  Could be.

Those attending the breakfast at the Home Front Café in Altamont, and not one complaint on the food, or the amount, were: Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Steve Kelly, George Washburn, Frank Pauli, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Andy Tinning, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, George Christian, and me.

Today’s report will be a bonus report — two weeks for one. The scribe was traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday and unfortunately missed Tuesday, Nov. 25; however, braving mighty obstacles, the scribe was able to make Tuesday, Dec. 2. (Boy oh boy, Christmas is right around the corner, so much to do, so little time.)

On Nov. 25, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg, and on Dec. 2, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown.

A topic from the Nov. 18 gathering is now quite topical. What do the OFs want, or need for Christmas?  For many of the OFs and because the OFs are just that (Old F’s) the giving part was easy — money or gift cards. Most of the OFs’ kids are approaching the point of being OFs themselves and have their own ideas of what they need so give them a few bucks to either get it, or help them out.

Some of the kids say, "Gee Dad, we don't need anything"; that is no fun and many times rings quite hollow.

When the OF says he doesn't need anything, it is generally true. What in the world is the OF going to with more stuff? Ah! But with a few of the OFs “stuff” is their middle name.

However, a gift card to a grocery store is a good thing. The problem here is that the OF will give the kids gift cards to grocery stores, and kids will give the OF a gift card to grocery stores. That is like one log truck going east on the road passing another log truck going west. Duh.

Old stuff

Now, what do the OFs do for fun? The options are as varied as there are OFs.

Some are boat enthusiasts, while others belong to civic organizations; some work at very fine crafts, and others collect stuff.

The stuff collectors have a problem and this has been mentioned before: They are OFs, and the stuff they collect is not dolls, or marbles.  This stuff is big like cars, trucks, and tractors (especially tractors) and along with that — old farm equipment.

These antiques are intended by the OFs to be restored and run but now the OFs are running out of time to get them in shape. The OFs are now antiques themselves and they need some tender loving care, and new parts like the equipment they are trying to restore, to get the OF into some kind of workable, running shape.

The conversations of many of the OFs on old antiquities show a knowledge that many museums might wish they had, and, with the OFs at the breakfast tables, this knowledge is just normal talk.

This goes along with their "collections,” much of which are museum pieces. What the OFs need are some young volunteers to work on this "stuff" with the OFs as mentors.

Though, as one OF put it, this is a hands-on, get-dirty, lift-and-lug type of endeavor, not staring at some three-by-four screen while the only muscles used are the ones that control the thumbs, and no real mental skills are involved, just reaction time to something someone else has already done.

One OF just mentioned that he was looking for an old corn sheller, and another OF responded, “What kind?” because he had one.

The first OF said, “One with a cast iron frame,” and the other OF said his was a wood frame.

It wasn't long before a deal was made and the corn sheller might change hands. What kind of group would have that type of machine just lying around and another person looking for one? What type of group (other than the OFs) would even know the difference between a sheller and a husker?

There were no questions asked like, “Why do you want a corn sheller?” Inquiring about a corn sheller is just the OFs’ normal conversations.

Geographic bonding

There are some newer members of the OFs who have been rattling around the Hilltowns for quite some time.  Now they are seeing new faces for the first time and trying to connect these faces with where they might know them from, and then they try to relate them to certain pieces of property.

Here begins the lineage of, “Ya know the old Perkins place?”

“Ah yes, that used to be the Moore place.”

“Nah, the old Moore place used to be by the Jacobs place at the corner of Blah and Jump roads.”

“Are you sure?  I thought that was the Adams house.”

“No, the Adams house was around the corner where the two big oaks are.”

On and on until the real place of where they knew each other link up. Makes no difference who lives there now, the OFs go back to who built the place during or just after the Revolutionary War.

Then comes the connecting of the friends or relatives of forty, fifty, or sixty years ago. It is surprising to many of the OFs how a little bit of geography is a bonding agent.

Sympathy extended

The Old Men of the Mountain offer their deepest sympathies to the family of Carl Slater, a long-standing and loyal member of the OMOTM for many years, who passed away at the age of 84. He will be greatly missed.

The Old Men of the Mountain also offer their sympathies to Miner Stevens whose brother-in-law passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 2. The OMOTM condolences go to Miner and his family also.

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner and probably spoke freely because the scribe wasn't there to tattle on them, were: Duncan Bellinger, Harold Guest, Andy Tinning, Frank Pauli, Steve Kelly, Roger Schafer, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Garry Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and not me.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown and solved most of the nation’s problems by going back in time when the nation was number one in many things and now seems to be leading in not much, were: Karl Remmers, Roger Schafer, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Dick Ogsbury, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Ken Hughes, Jack Norray, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Henry Whipple, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Harold Guest, and me.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie.

It was noted that there was a big change in the weather from the 18th of November to the 19th, but what the people in the Midwest and the people in the Philippines are going through right now (and who knows how many more people are) a few-degrees drop in temperature is nothing we have to worry about.  We only know that it is time to put another log on the fire.

The OFs sat in the comfort of the Blue Star and had breakfast, and this old sphere just keeps spinning around and around; the OFs just sit there and talk about the flood in another building close by that just a short time ago was full of water.

The people who have such great events enter into their lives will relate time from then on to these events. The OFs are still talking about the flood (from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011) and it came up again Tuesday morning along with dialogue concerning recent tornadoes and the typhoon.

This talk was about something that not too many have even considered, i.e., paperwork that is kept at lawyers’ offices for safekeeping, and safe-deposit boxes at banks for the same reason.

One OF said the safe-deposit box situation hit home with him because his deposit box was in a bank vault that filled with water; however, his box was on the top shelf and the water stopped just a few inches below it. The boxes below were under water and these boxes are not waterproof.

The OF said, “You think you have all your bases covered and  Mother Nature has a subtle way of saying, ‘Hold on a second. I have something to say about that.’”

The OFs wonder if those who say time heals all wounds — well, does it really?

As one OF put it, “That statement probably emanates from someone who has not experienced whatever tragedy is the point of conversation. ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ is a better quote and, after that mile, see if ‘time heals’ still fits.”

Wither the Monarchs?

One OF posed the question, “How many of you OFs have seen the Monarch butterfly this year?”

You know, no one within earshot of the OF who asked the question could remember seeing one. This OF said that a fungus, similar to the White Nose syndrome of bats, brought on by the strange weather early in the year, did a real number on the Monarch.

This OF said that he had read that they might not make a comeback because they were so badly affected. Well, that was said about the bats and the bald eagle and they are making remarkable comebacks.

Let’s hope that the Monarch rebounds quickly because they are great pollinators. 

Along with this came a few comments on the number of deer, which seems to be less, along with squirrels and rabbits, at least in the areas the OFs are from. This may not be true elsewhere. There may be places where the deer are taking over; the same with squirrels and rabbits.

Have a plan

One OF brought up a problem that is not too uncommon. This OF has a friend with whom he normally converses by phone at least once a week.  This friend lives alone and he does not live that close by.

The OF said he has been unable to reach him in the last two weeks and was wondering if he should call the authorities to go and check on him. The OFs think that it is a good thing to have a plan in case this should happen to one of us.

At the ages of some of the OFs, this is a possibility.

One OF suggested that this is why people should be part of something like seniors, or a church, or the American Legion, or Veterans of Foreign Wars — some organization that would be concerned if your habits changed.

In this case, there might be someone to check on you and see if you are OK.

Know-how in demand

Another topic came up that was not specific to an OF problem, and that is, when someone has a particular talent, or expertise, and belongs to an organization that takes advantage of that talent or expertise.  In this case, it was running sound equipment that one OF seems to know what he is doing.

To this particular OF, it is a simple job. But, and this is a big but, this OF is not always around when the equipment is being run.

Another OF mentioned that an organization he belongs to has the same problem and the guy who knows how to run the equipment is not around much of the time either. The OF said that he has everything color coded — the white wire to the white receptacle etc., etc.

And the OF said he has given instructions more than once on how to shut it down and start it up. Ditto with the other OF; however, these instructions seem to fall on deaf ears. Not really deaf ears: The people being trained know what to do at the time and maybe a month or so later but that information eventually becomes lost in the six inches of gray matter between the ears because it is not used and so enters the nether land of the brain.

 One OF came to the defense of those who are not familiar with using sound equipment. The OF who has the know-how uses his knowledge quite frequently, where the others might only have to use it once a year, and the OF relating this mentioned he is quite familiar with the short-term memory loss in this type of surrounding.

Things start making noises that the untrained OF is not familiar with and he goes a little berserk thinking the whole thing is falling apart and he does not want to be responsible for pushing the wrong button and blowing the whole business up. All this OF can think of is to pull the plug and wait for the OF who knows what he is doing to come and fix it.

The reader can insert appliance or whatever into the slot where sound system is mentioned. Wait for someone who knows what to do to show up. That is the best answer!

Those OFs who showed up at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie on that rather blustery Tuesday morning and were glad nothing needed fixing before they came, were: Roger Chapman, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Andy Tinning, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Duncan Bellinger, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Bill Keale, Lou Schenck, Don Moser, Jack Norray, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, Don Wood, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.

Give one big Whoop for Tuesday, because Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. This restaurant, like many of the restaurants the OFs attack, has that early morning welcome sign, which is not in words but the smell of eggs and bacon cooking as the OFs walk down the sidewalk from their cars to the restaurant.

The OFs mention this quite often because it is like a magnet drawing the OFs to the front door.

The OFs think that one way to end a battle on the front lines would be to have each army set up their cook tents along the front and start cooking breakfast. As soon as that aroma wafted over to either side, the OFs bet that both sides would set down their arms, grab their mess kits, and go have breakfast — maybe even together.

One OF said that, in today’s wars, there doesn't seem to be enemy lines. It just seems to be skirmishes, or car bombs, or suicide bombers, or blowing up school buses full of kids going to school.

One offered even drones — no one around — just an unmanned flying machine. Another OF said he still doesn't understand what the wars are about.

“All I know,” the OF said, “is what I read in the paper and none of that seems to make much sense.”

This OF didn't understand how making breakfast would help today. “Who is the bad guy, who is the good guy?” the OF asked. “Does anyone know, or has most of the world gone crazy?”

Bald man’s lament

On a lighter note, the more important question asked was: Why do we OFs who are bald have to pay the same amount for a haircut as some guy with a ton of hair?

One OF said that he has sat along the wall in the barbershop waiting while some guy in the barber chair gets coifed and it take 20 minutes or more, and he gets in the chair and it is whirr-shear, eyebrows snipped, neck shaved, and out!  The OF is out of the chair in five minutes max, yet he pays the same as the guy with the half-hour hairdo.

“That is not the lament of just us OFs,” said an OF. “That is the lament of all the bald guys.”

“Maybe that is where the barber shops make their profit,” a different OF mused.

“It is tough finding a barber shop now,” one OF added.

He needed a haircut and his wife made him go to one of those sissy places. The OF said that was a mistake.

He told the girl (hair stylist?) he just wanted a haircut. The first thing this girl did was lead him to the sink and wash his hair.

“What!  Did she think I had lice or something?  I told her I just washed it this morning in the shower.”

Then the girl got the back of his shirt so wet that, even after being toweled off, his shirt was too uncomfortable to wear. After he left the shop, the OF walked down the mall and bought a shirt and undershirt at K-Mart because the OF said he was soaked and freezing.

To top it all off, this girl who had “cut” his hair had spent half the time snipping at the air with the scissors, and not really doing much cutting. When he got home, the OF looked in the mirror and said he still looked the same as when he went in the (Salon?).  He was still in need of a haircut — what a rip-off.

“Give me a guy barbershop any day, where I can still get a haircut and don't have to go back every week, and have some chatty, snippety young thing click her scissors in the air to make me feel like I am getting my hair cut,” the OG concluded.

One OF said he thought prices should be pro-rated at the barber shop: X number of dollars for a five-minute cut, and X number for 10 minutes, X number for 20 minutes and so on.

“Then,” the OF said, “you can go in and say, ‘I want a 10-minute special’ and be out of the chair in 10 minutes.”

“That might not work,” said another OF. “If you had a fine head of hair like me, which takes awhile to cut, and you ask for the 10-minute special.  The barber may only have enough time to cut half the hair on your head and you would go out of the shop looking kind of weird.”

Then one OF said, “Don’t mess with what the barber does; remember he is the one with the razor in his hand.”

Felons in office?

The OFs, discussed something that they didn't know (what?), at least at this scribe’s end of the table and that was convicted felons running for political office and winning the election.

“Sure,” one OF said, “look at Marion Barry, one of the former mayors of Washington, D.C. itself; he was a convicted felon.”

This scribe did a little checking — the key word here is little — but the basic answer is: yes. The Constitution says felons can even — while in prison — be elected for federal office (House and Senate) and serve from jail.

However, there are some in this body but suffice it to say the House or Senate can expel them because they are bad guys. The states have nothing to say about this.

Voting and holding elected office for state or other offices differs by state, but in many cases the answer is: yes. This scribe could not find where it differentiated between murder and stealing candy from a baby. (Then again, this scribe used to read a lot; now this scribe reads two pages, falls asleep, and has to go back and read over what he just read and fall asleep again. Takes awhile to read a book now but this scribe gets plenty of naps.)

Brain lapses

The OFs have a new name for lapses of information in a normal conversation.

One OF was talking to another OF, and was going to tell the first OF about someone in the hospital. In the middle of the sentence, he stopped talking because the name of the OF in the hospital went right out of his head.

So the OF who started the conversation had to stop right there because the whole purpose of the conversation was gone.  About 15 minutes later, the OF shouted out the name. The name sifted its way through all the clogged-up brain cells until it found its way out.

Another OF said to the OF across from him, “How about the time I asked you about your granddaughter and you couldn't remember her name?”

“Yeah, you OG.  You asked me that in front of 40 people.”

The other OF said, “How was I supposed to know you would forget her name; she was only five chairs down from where we sitting.”

What are these brain lapses?

One OF said, at our ages, they are the same as Brain "F---s". The OF agreed because none of us can escape them.

A different OF said that, when it happens to him, he starts to recite the alphabet and, generally, when he comes to the letter that pertains to the thought, the lost thought usually comes to mind.

One OF said that sometimes, when it happens to him unconsciously, it must rattle around in his head somewhere because at the darndest time he will blurt out something like "Charlie Chaplin,” or "Mickey Mouse" for no reason at all.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café, and did not forget (maybe because their wives pushed them out the door) were: Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Andy Tinning, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Gary Porter, Bill Keale, Miner Stevens, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Bill Krause, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, and me.