Rambling observations on modernity from the perspective of a obsolete child.
| From 'deer camp' to Kelly Hill Road are a measured three miles, and a stone's throw beyond that is an abandoned farmhouse. It's easy to drive past; everything's over grown and is anything but eye catching. A barn another stone's throw south probably diverts one's attention, its part of a nature stand and the building is a preserve for rare bats that lives in these parts. The barn is about a century old, the farm house isn't. In a way it's an ironic situation, a nature park in the middle of Allegheny National Forest.
One of the things I wanted to do on my vacation was walk through the property with a camera. Record a moment in time just because I could. Well this year is different than the past several. I'm doing financially better, much better. No more low wages, high taxes and child support, all of which put me in a position of being right here and now. A paid vacation, the third in seventeen years, and this time two weeks.
My job is still horrid. It's in the middle of clown world. It's where you can get reassigned for using the F-Bomb as unprofessional but somehow having a transvestite on staff, in drag, is professional decorum. That's a script right out of Monty Python.
Now I didn't get the camera for several reasons, one being the communications between my site and H&R is beyond obtuse. Not enough time to order it, and read the instructions. I need hobbies and I want photography to be one of them. Second reason is, I didn't go cheap on the brakes to my new car, well not a new car but a real gem of a used Chevy Impala. Spending about seven bills on my car isn't a problem, but the hobby takes a back seat...Could afford both but after being down a real bad stretch of life, I'm frugal.
So I used my flip phone.
I also walked. Its eighty degrees on the Fahrenheit scale, I took the road and have enough pictures of wild flowers, purple nettles and babbling brooks to choke a small dog. That's on the way to the farmhouse. After all, it's only three miles one way, right?
Well I got to the farmhouse and find the front door locked and the back door padlocked. I found that odd since I figured the place would be a hangout for the local teenagers and other savages. Find graffiti of body parts and swear words on the walls and cigarette butts on the floor, maybe a ratty couch and a few porn magazines strewn about a living room. At least that's what savages did when I was one.
I gained entrance through a basement door that at first appeared to be broken off the frame but later seemed to have rotted off. Then I took a jaunt up the stairs to the living room and a tour of the stripped kitchen and a small dining room, all very empty. The newspapers lining the kitchen cabinets dated to 1993.
It wasn't 'really' empty. The house was filled with this timorous apprehension that gave way to a welcoming friendliness. It didn't take much as I wandered the upper bedrooms to feel the spiritual shadow of what once was. Sibling rivalry, some bickering among spouses, echoes of Christmas and Thanksgiving. It smelled like Norman Rockwell.
Outback of the farmhouse, strolling around the property the same ambience permeated everywhere. First echoes came from a rusty basketball hoop attached to a rotting backboard over the open door to the ice house, now that's old, to the aloneness of a shed and the whispering laments of a nearly collapsed chicken coop. The ground is mostly scrub, a thin veneer of dirt over rocks, these people farmed animals mostly. That used to be called 'crofting' in another time, especially if you did it for a landlord as a tenant.
Well, after a few, I walked the three miles back to my place. When I got to the porch I told myself to take a canteen next time. Six miles and change, hot day, no water and I'm over fifty. What surprised me is that my cell phone was more useful. Talk about civilization creeping about. In my youth, you took your knife and gun and went through the woods because the four legged animals were easier to deal with and you never knew what was cruising along Route 62.
What are cruising along Route 62 today are hipsters with no sense in Tesla convertibles. People that aren't like me. People that bought a college diploma then went where they did because somebody in the food chain owed their daddy a favor. My grandfather called them college educated pseudo-intellectual paper tigers. Dad called them 'Goody-Goodies'. I call them a threat to my grandchildren's safety. See, those people don't do anything. They don't build spaceships that go to the moon, they don't fight their own wars, and they don't take risks outside of the virtual reality of the internet. What they do as a whole is stand on the shoulders of giants and crow as a rooster does on top of a dung heap. They re-brand old ideas, call them new and sell that all the while blaming the hand selected out-party boogieman for not congratulating them on their own existence.
Now, back to the front porch where I'm huffing and puffing. The place is the sound silence makes when old. It echoes like the farmhouse but this was never a farm. I can almost hear my beagles, long dead; all of them and a mutt name Teddy Bear, barking. My sister Susan needs to be running her yip to my mom. I wish my other sisters had lived to see the place, that's a sad story in itself, told another time.
I know why my grandchildren aren't here. Alcoholism and divorce pays, and people go to where the money is. See, my children have the same problems everyone always has, but they don't solve it by sticking together. For them its fission, not fusion. That's probably why I'm sitting on the porch wondering why I need to take a canteen for a six mile and change non-stop adventure. I didn't need that when I was twenty-five and smoked two packs a day and drank a fifth of whiskey a week. Take that literally. Makes me wonder why those two suppressed habits didn't kill me by the time I was forty.
So here I sit staring at myself no longer wondering what happened or where things are going. Up here in the mountains of Appalachia I have friends and their children that are moving off grid. If I knew in my thirties, what I know now, I'd be off grid. That's the rub, what I know now came at the expense of time. Still, given the opportunity to get off grid I would. That's the problem of being old; you can see the past and the future playing out and can't do anything about it.
As a side note, right now I'm listening to Warren 92 Gold FM. The Hits from the 70's, 80's and 90's, and you can listen to their entire playlist in three days. Case in point about being old, the music is sung by male musicians that sound like castrati. Difference being castrati did it for love of the art, these (explicative deleted) did it for money. That use to be called being 'base' today it's called 'progress'. That sums it up, I live in a world that is measurably progressing toward being base and the rats are abandoning the ship of progress.
Another thing that makes me feel old is the conversations I'm having with my mother. She's older than dirt, resembles Angela Merkel and is stubborn. She can also talk the hind leg off a donkey and say nothing at all, while telling you what happened in 1943 to your cousin Regis and his wife Ida-Mae on the farm in a place called Dunbar. You'd think it happened yesterday. Well, four years after the fact I find out my cousin Bob of the Ohio Bob's, died of pancreatic cancer, his wife Medith, at age 72 marries again to a well-to-do gentlemen (now that's funny since Bob was a billionaire) and lives in England with her daughter who also married 'up'.
I'm the poor relation from East Podunk by the way.
Considering what Regis and his wife Ida-Mae are like and comparing that to the Bob's of Ohio I wonder exactly what my dad saw in my mother. And here I am...I know I'm not supposed to start a sentence with the word 'and', but it keeps the narrative conversational and edgy.
And it beats the 'F-bomb' for most people.
Personally I like the Y-Bomb, or the Q-Bomb. Why not just come right out and say what you mean? That's old school...This is clown world remember, where everything is a three ring circus and nothing ever goes wrong at the circus.
Before I close let me make another succinct comparison between old and new for your perusal. Recently I replaced a totally usable power tool at the end of its functional life span. This tool is at least 80 years old, probably closer to 90 and it works just as well today almost, as when it was first made. It was made as the economy line model for people who wanted quality but couldn't afford top shelf. My dad bought it used for 12 dollars and change at Murphy's Five and Dime in McKeesport, the store's now out of business by decades. The firearms company is still in business and the equivalent is available today for about $250. It has less features though, only one model out of what was a series, with still the same intent. You see, back in the day there wasn't entry level firearms, just tools and my Mossberg 42 MC, one of tens of thousands made over the early decades of the 20th Century was the economy model. A poor kid's first rifle built to last several life times. It was made before serial numbers were required, so its exact age is a guess.
Well today's modern equivalent wasn't made to be shot to hell and back exactly. The replacement was special ordered because I wanted a full length Mannlicher stock, that's a polymerized laminate synthetic. Its barrel is stainless steel, and the receiver is anodized brushed aluminum, one way a bad idea, the modular unit is held together by Allen-head set screws. The trigger housing is mostly polymer, and the springs stainless steel, and I believe the hammer is die cast zinc or a powder formed metal.
Okay, that probably requires a bit of an explanation. What that means is you have a power mechanically sprayed into a mold and an electric current passes through it thus generating heat from resistance. It allows hundreds of small parts to be made at once, cheap. Today, it's called a printed product, the process being an industrial standard.
Old school quality is machined from billeted steel and hand fitted according to jigs and go no-go gauges by single mothers on the prowl or entry level machinists.
Now I ended up with a Ruger 10/22, several polymer factory magazines and a lower end 'entry' level scope from a high end company name Leopold. All for about 650 dollars, and in the 1930's this level of rifle was handmade in Europe.
Once you get past the fact it was built by people who don't shoot but are well-educated and I dare say serious engineers, you have something to behold. Problem is the fancy metals. Most people don't run several thousand rounds through a rifle in one day let alone over the life of the firearm.
Me. I do.
It's a .22 lr., and for me that's about a thousand rounds at a clip, as it makes shooting the much more expensive and harder kicking rifles, I have easy. Now for the predicament. After about two hundred rounds, when most people have quit for the day, I'm still smoking everything I see. As a matter of interest, what really shook me to the bone is I have an auto-loading rifle that's match grade accurate out of the box with almost every brand of ammo I send through it. It use to be when I was small, you either got lucky with a bolt action rifle for this level of precision, with hand loaded ammunition or went to a company called Anschutz spent several thousand dollars on the rifle, several thousand on the scope and paid out your nose to a company called Eley for the ammunition to get exactly what I got for under a grand.
Now, the exact mechanical concern is heat. The aluminum receiver after about two hundred rounds heats up and expands faster than the steel scope screws do, much faster. So what happens, the factory supplied Weaver rail rattles off and you now have to screw it back down and re-zero the scope. After doing this once I resorted to red Loctite (TM), exactly what the owner's guide says not to. Now the rail is a permanent part of the receiver. Not a problem since the mid-barrel iron sight is too hard for me to use and there is an aftermarket rear iron sight that is better for me. If it ever has to come off, the rail that is, somebody will need a hammer, chisel and a drill press to get it back on. Why it would need to come off is I don't know.
Second problem with heat is the take down set screw loosens up and after about three to four hundred rounds needs torque down with an Allen wrench. This isn't a problem since plumbers tape fixes that but why? You'll need to take the rifle apart to clean it and I can't imagine a situation off the range where I'd be shooting that much ammunition all at once.
With the old rifle, you just kept feeding it until you were tired.
I've done that allot, so has my father and so has the first owner.
The second rifle, despite its idiosyncratic features is light-years away from the old. Why the peculiar features? The designers figured most Americans wanted a light weight rifle, and it is compared to the Mossberg, and don't shoot as much as they walk, and they don't walk far with heavy.
In the vernacular of us old farts...They over thunk it.
In there is the issues of the clown world in which I live. It is over thought by people who don't do. It's why the farmhouse is the way it is, the deer camp is the way it is. It's why my old Mossberg is the way it is compared to the new Ruger.
The old was built for people who do. The new is built for people who don't. What will happen is the people who don't will be conquered by the people who do...And those who don't will hand it over with a blind smile and a laugh thinking they're getting the deal of the century.
This will happen because I'm a member of those who won't. I won't participate in my own demise anymore, I won't go along with bad ideas perpetuated by the pseudo-intellectual, and I will contribute the minimum effort as required by tax law and my own advantage. I won't fight 'their' wars anymore, or more accurately teach other to those ends.
Those who don't have real problems and are blissfully unaware the circus is leaving town.
All those ideas, observations, from a walk down the road.