When living OTG first piqued my interest twenty years ago, I did what everybody does, I read and did research. Of course, reading is somewhat two-dimensional and it is the hands-on experience and personalizing that fleshes out one’s knowledge. Books just weren’t enough to give me the perspective, the sense, or the feel for it. Not for me, anyway. But the Mother Earth News forums were a good compromise back then. A great interim first step.
The MEN forums gave the topics and the people came together to share and explain the nuts and bolts of things, the stories that happened to them, the learning and experience of it all. It was NOT the same as doing for me, of course, but it was a hugely MORE REAL way to learn than just by the often stilted printed words in how-to and instructional books.
Which, by the way, is the reason I write in such a personal-to-me way. It was that style that I learned from. It is ‘forum’ style and it reaches me.
The best part was that, after awhile, you got to know ‘the regular’ contributors. In that ‘virtual’ forum, you made friends, bonded, made judgments and generally acted as much like a community as a computer and the internet will allow. In fact, the MEN forums were the most human and personal places I ever found of that medium. I still have friends from that time.
One just wrote. It’s been ten years.
“Hey, David, don’t know if you’re still around but thought I would holler at ya.
Not much going on here, still kicking barely. Had mitral valve surgery
last week, and I’m doing about as good as I can. I’m trying to make it
another year, not so sure I will though. Had a fib hit me about a month
or so ago and my defibrillator kicked me 2 times and brought me back.
How are things going for you?”
SK is/was a poor, Georgia ‘cracker’, ex-military vet with health problems, a lot of country wisdom and skills and even more knowledge on domestic animals. He is single, kids grown and they were in the military, too. Guns. Engines. Flags on the porch. Lonely. Lots of dogs. He was hardscrabble and food stamps. Dirt poor and unemployable. But generous to a fault and very helpful. I liked him then. I like him now.
He wasn’t the only one, of course. There was P-45 immortalized as one of the characters in our last book. The OOMs, of course. A whole book in themselves. Many more. And nor was the MEN forum the only place to find friends. Other OTG related bloggers ‘connect’. So do readers. I would venture a guess that I might have at least a dozen REAL friends as a result of the blogs and forums, books and other internet connections (DeWayne, Derek, John, Aldo, plus, plus, plus). And I am sure I have 100 or so ‘internet friends’ that are very real at a certain level but that will never actually be encountered in person.
Deer Garden writes an OTG blog (see blog favourites). Her husband had health issues too. She shared that story. Without being cardio-savvy, I am guessing but both SK and DG’s husband, E, had/have the same kind of bad hearts. SK now lives in Kansas but E lives in BC. E is going gang-busters. All I ever read about E is how he is a-building and getting in fire-wood and doing projects and being busy all the live-long day. E is a dynamo probably by nature but being the recipient of a new heart some years back made everything better. See E go!
The point: see socialized medicine work.
SK again: “Still in Kansas, I’m slower that’s for sure. 🙂 The ole heart is done
for I fear, the valve was the last thing they could do. Got turned down
for transplant due to no money to pay for the drugs afterwards. That’s
Waiting to see if I get any energy back to make decisions on whether to
keep my 4 cows n 2 goats n 10 chickens.
Its cold here, freezing my butt off. Haven’t had heat. No money to buy
wood to heat with due to medicine costs. Gotta love social security.
Hope your little island is warm and snug. Haven’t heard from
P45 in a long time. Most of the rest of the folks we know are
still around on the forum.”
I am sure there are a lot of differences between E and SK. Especially now at 70. One’s ‘Merican, the other a Canuck. They are basically the same age, tho. Same interests. They are both skilled and love OTG. They both had bad hearts. The only tangible difference I know is what I read on the blogs and the forums. SKs heart has limited his whole life, restricted his relationships, stopped his creativity and will likely soon kill him. E was offered another path and it turned out better.
We, in Canada, have some real issues to deal with and even our socialized medicine can be drastically improved. But E didn’t have to go to war. Neither did I. SK did. And so did his sons. E had his faulty heart replaced. E has a rich life. SK doesn’t. And SK has had to carry his burden alone for 30 plus years. American Capitalism has not been generous to SK.
Our peaceful, somewhat more socialized government is the difference.