Glenn

How to safely ask curmudgeons for advice?

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Humans, even the curmudgeonly, enjoy being a Knower of Things.  And will share readily with a sincere seeker.  As Charles said, it's the 10,000 fools who came first that wear someone down to Perpetual Grumpiness.  

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Try "googleing" it first....wikipedia second....then take yer chances!!! ;)

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Just being courteous makes a huge difference. If you want something from someone, giving them crap for it isn't a good tactic for success. We aren't plants and even don't like smell.

Come - post, keep the compost to yourself!

Frosty The Lucky.

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I would suggest grabbing a pop and a lunch, then searching the forums. Seriously. Not only can you gain valuable blacksmithing knowledge, but by actually reading responses, you can gain an understanding on how to approach said curmudgeons.

 

 

Oh, and don't forget to add your location as well.

Edited by Jeddly

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If you are polite, hat in hand (literally taking it off your head and holding it in your hand), and using the word "Sir" with meaning, you can at least get the offer of an opening statement. Be honest and sincere and ask for his assistance.

Tell him the information you have researched and think you know already. Be brief. This will establish a starting point and keep from wasting his time. State specifically what you would like to know. His reply will be your opportunity to learn, so use it wisely. Ask a follow-up question. This should give you signals for additional questions or give you signals to bring things to a close. Either way thank him for his time and politely ask if you may contact him again later if you have additional questions.

The care and feeding of curmudgeons is both an art and a science. It varies from individual to individual and is always done on their terms, and by showing respect to them.


 

Edited by Glenn

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Greetings All,

Time for this OL Boys 2c,

( 1 )  QUESTION....     I have researched this area and do not fully understand and would like the advice of the more experienced seniors on this forum. 

( 2 )  Finish ...              Thank you for your information...   I will report back with the outcome ....

 SIMPLE....

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

 

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If I posted a reply to explain that one should first read the threads that are here, maybe show some effort to learn rather than the current idea of entitlement, where we have to bow and tell them only what they want to know, with out any useless additional explanations, or heaven forbid we ask them questions, which wastes their valuable time; which is much more important that ours is. 

If I even hinted I expect a person to get their hands dirty before I stop what I was doing to help,  I would be abused for causing hurt feelings, told my place in life is existing only to kiss up to the lazy, so I wont post :) many who ask wont bother to read it anyway. we had one just like this last week, I bet he still  has not light a fire...

Edited by Steve Sells

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I agree with Glenn, first off, hat in hand and if on your head the brim goes front, speak very politely and tell them what you are looking for and what you THINK you know already, never argue except with yourself on the way home.  Also agree with Jim esp. the thanking at the end. 

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I never had much trouble when I showed up with a cigar and a bottle of scotch or the like, plus a good attitude!

i have a master bagpipe maker/woodturner friend, and several master pipers and have never gone wrong with being quiet....

Edited by Chadwicks bog

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On what Steve said... If we newbies dont smarten up our act we will be faced with a dwindling source of reliable information. Sure we could go it alone but each of us would be better off doing a 7 year apprenticeship than make that many mistakes and learn that many bad habbits thereby futher diluting the trade, or in my case hobbie or craft. The best information on this site is given to all newbies right at the start, the underlying headline is "Do your homework before coming to school" Thats my opinion.

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Read a few good books...  Look for book reviews here using the search function here...  Read the forums like a boy with Asperger's reads the encyclopedia. or is that Wikipedia...  Be passionate enough to do some research on your own.  Some of us don't mind handing out the cookies from the bottom shelf, but the curmudgeons don't want to give cookies to bad boys and girls who don't do their homework. Avoid the dreaded open ended question, be specific, which means have enough knowledge already to ask the refining questions.

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 Just don't kiss their feet because they really stink!  My method before asking for help was to  TRY  every technique I could imagine then take those miserable samples for show and tell.

This proved I had tried and it meant a lot for the answers I needed. Remember they are only human beings and they respect honest effort. Always worked for me!

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Be specific!  (even taking off your aluminium foil cap doesn't help us read your mind when the stars are askew). It's very disheartening to laboriously type in 6 pages of the care and feeding of coal forges only to have the  asker say: "Oh I'm on a coral atoll and the only fuel we have access to is charcoal".

What are you trying to accomplish?  What tools and skills do you have?  What have your tried and the results you had?  

Be careful to not demand that we spoon feed you info; watch out that you don't fall into the trap of telling us "I wanted to save money so I'm doing it this way which costs 8 times as much and does a really poor job..."

Or "I can't afford to use my free public library card and get sources from the library"  (Or "my library can ILL books from over 100 other libraries including University ones  but I can't be bothered to ask for them"; or I want *you* to type in all the information from a 900+ page book for me cause it would take too long to read it")

If you tell us that if we don't help you, you will hold your breath until you turn blue; we might say; Blue's an excellent colour on you!  Or that we're destroying the future of the craft because we won't do all the work for you; having taught hundreds of people, I think I'm doing my part for the craft and may not think the future of the craft just has to have *you*.

Don't tell us you know all about blacksmithing because you've played a video game or watched movies or that your first project will be a 40 pound damascus greatsword---and BTW which end of the hammer are you supposed to hold????

And let's not get started on apprenticeships!

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one problem is....i seen this on a video game........or the awsome ...i wanna make a sord. especially when they say well i have a bbq pit. and the ever present, you owe me the knowledge because i demand it. and the ability that some think they are never wrong and when told to crawl before walking, they get their drawers in a knot.

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Ah! The ignorance and vitality of youth.

I like the story of the young man who went away to college, and after a few years working and looking after himself, came home, telling his friend  "Before I left for college I always used to fight with my stupid father about everything...he has really improved since I have been away"....

Some old timers like to be fauned over and almost deified. Who cares?  If they have something useful to share praise away, no skin off your nose. Others want you to show your commitment to the craft before they commit information to you. All good. 

Please and thank you go much further than they ought.

If if in doubt ask, don't tell them what you want to know. Let them explain it the way they want, in their terms not yours.

Alan, who has learned lots from the best and the worst and hopefully is still learning.

Edited by Alan Evans

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Probably the hardest thing for me dealing with kids is they're KIDS. Someone here posted a little blurb or maybe a bumper sticker saying "Hire a teenager NOW while they still know everything." True dat.

ANYONE any different as a kid? Be honest now. I know I sure was, every single time I entered a new craft or whatever I had fantasies about discovering or coming up with a new method that revolutionized whatever I was learning. Heck, sometimes I was even right a little bit. Not all my ideas were bad, just the vast majority.

I don't know how many parents lament what happens when their bright, eager kids go to school and learn dumb. The more kids figuring things out the worse the solutions, college coffee klatches are incredible sessions in self delusion and the rationalizations of "SHOULD!" Ideas without plans. When people make it to adulthood and remain Shouldheads, I . . . <sigh>

Anyway, I think that's my point for now. Kids are kids. Learning to talk to curmudgeons is part of the learning curve as is learning to just do your job and not make many suggestions. The old saw about "God gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason," is as true for us curmudgeonly old farts ones as the kids.

Better go now, I've yammered long enough.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Oh that's a GOOD one Neil! I'm sure I'll find a situation to remember it. <smirk>

Frosty The Lucky.

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When it comes to curmudgeons there are also widely varying DEGREES of curmudgeons. There are some I would not hesitate to ask a question of or argue a point with, others I wouldn't approach at gunpoint .  There are curmudgeons and then there are CURMUDGEONS, the latter are best simply left alone to stew in their own stuff, why risk riling them up AT ALL if every question or point gets argued and ends with some version of "you don't know what you're talking about and only I do."  

Generally speaking I actually LIKE curmudgeons, I'd even go so far as to say I prefer them - they're at least authentic about who they are.  But there's a line between a truly Authentic Person and a person whose just decided to wallow in their own stuff and dare anyone to enter their defined territory.   I've had lots of experience with both - the first group I welcome, the second I just make wide tracks around. 

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