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How to safely ask curmudgeons for advice?


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As I have had more exposer to witchdoctors and shrinks ( no offence to the Psycoligists and Psycoligists oming us) than a man should, lol. Any way the standard test for diagnosing mental illness is the MMPI (Minnesota multiple personality invitory) witch when used on teens and most "youn adults" inverible shoes them to be socipaths. Makes sence to me. I always like listning to the old folks, as they lived the history i was reading about in school (at the time that was WWII) and I learned at a very early age that "please and thank you" went over real well with the grey haired set.  

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When I started, I read everything here. After that, I started hitting hot and hotter metal as time went by. Then forging made some forging problems for me. I always found out answers to my questions searching and reading IFI posts.

How do you avoid the wrath of the Powers, the The Luckys, the Sells, the Glenns, the Stevens of this world? Read what they and so many others (with more mellow personnalities) have given freely and generously to this site, building an elaborate encyclopedia of blacksmithing. Then as you advance, you might have what I would like to call "educated questions". Ask them, showing how they are of the educated type, by saying what you have done to solve the problem, what problem you still have and the bears will emerge from their caverns and be all help and most of the time with fine humour.

I must say that from the height of my ignorance, I almost joined them recently when some lazy ... just wanted everyone to do the job for him. But before I could write anything, the Powers, the The Luckys, the Sells, the Stevens, the Glenns all came down on him ... the poor soul.

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I am honored that you included me in such elustrus company, for my oart, and from my experiance asking helf from others, we wouldn't post if we didn't care. About your groat in this hobby/vocation and most specificaly your safty. I am also coginent of the fact that you are not the only person reading this post, your grand child may one day be doing so.

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Charles,

I would like to insist on the fact that IFI constitutes the equivalent of an encyclopedia on blacksmithing. And yes, as you aptly said, our grand chldren one day will need the knowledge and knowhow accumulated here.

When, a while back, IFI was threatened in its existence, I was shocked by the possibility that this knowledge would not be made available for those coming after us. I posted something recently precisely with the objective of helping someone who wants to go further than his/her comfort zone. I showed how it works for me. And others have shown how it works for them. IFI is an accumulation of knowledge permitting one to choose between the many ways there are to skin the blacksmith's cat.

By the way Charles, I do not believe that you are as bad as the others ...

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To the Curmudgeons, from a newbie:

Be Friendly to us newbies, especially if you know us in person! I certainly agree with you getting impatient about us asking dumb questions. I am honored to have personally known Jim Slining, who used to work a Williamsburg, and is now at Tillers International. He took a personal interest in me, asked me every now and then what I had made, how I was getting along, etc. And then he made some tongs as a gift for me! I was so grateful for his friendship and interest in me and my being a newbie. His encouragement made a world of difference to me.

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Taking notes here: gotta getta signet ring soonest. Shows class.

Odor of odure: duly noted from here.;)

Rule of two's: only got two typing fingers, so kinda slow on the response from this end.

Beer: well, a sixpack of dark is better than nothing, I guess, but some 18 year old uisge beatha would certainly grease the skids.

Hard hat and body armour: check!

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Say Tony: I don't think any of this came up because folk were unfriendly to newcomers, I believe it's more like the new comers were demanding questions be answered in ways they deemed correct. Sorry, that attitude pretty well puts a person towards the bottom of the "be friendly towards" list.

I don't know how long you've been lurking but seeing you've posted 14 times . . . well, the # of your posts doesn't mean anything longevity wise. Anyway, if you've read much here you will have noticed how much time the old timers spend mentoring new folk and it doesn't take any kind of brown nosing to get help. Just asking usually does it. Bummer if the help is a reference to a couple hundred times the same or similar question has been asked and answered.

Such is life, if a person is affronted by such I'm afraid I can't help, possibly nobody can.

Frosty The Lucky.

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My personal experience with the self proclaimed curmudgeons here, is that they actually are nice to the new and not so new guys as long as a few basic rules are fallowed, bring your enthusiasm, be dedicated enough  to spend a bit of time studying, if not old threads, at least pined threads and the last 48 hours of posts (seeing the same question posted three times in a 24 hour period is guaranteed to rile Master Sells, especially if he has answered the first 2 and the 50 other times it has come up in the last year) I'm not saying to read everything before you post, just the current threads, and the pined topics, especially in the area you are asking about. I want to beat my head against the desk when I have just posted to a thread about building a new charcoal forge, just to have a new to the forum (the key pad still warm from his registration) ask the exact same question i just answered.

Then there is manners,  you do not pay for this site, a really generous and compassionate guy named Glenn Conner does, he sets the rules, mediates disputes and checks every action performed by the Volunteer moderators to make sure they are to his standards, and his standards of fairness are very high. So don't dictate what you want posted in "your thread", we do get sidetracked some times bust often we are giving the answer you need, or explaining out answer to the "lurkers" that haven’t got up the nerve to ask. If we step out of bounds we will know about it, sooner than later.

lastly, often you are being treated as we treat our friends and children. A bit of kidding (we don't tease you if we don't like you) and strait no sugar coated, heaped on with a shovel (this isn't French Nouvelle cooking, we don't serve coal up with a tea spoon). 

If any of the old salts answer you, its because they want you to succeed, but if you open your mouth up and prove your a spoiled, self entitled little worm, you don’t deserve us being nice, if a little gruff rebuke straitens you out and makes a worthy and honest citizen of you then we will forget about it and go on trying to help. 

If you want to see "nice to the new guy" look at the 12 year old that just asked for honest criticism. He is getting strait honest feed back, not hateful and degrading, just mater of fact, honest and heartfelt. Why? Because he understands how to ask, how to try and he understands that "you did a good job but this will help you do even better" is assumed by the fact that they are responding with detailed advice.

one of my favorite things to tell my children was "listen to what I am saying, not what you think I am saying" often good advice is seen as an attack bu the drama queens of this world. If you walk across a cow lot, it isn’t if, its when you will step in manure, then if you tempt fate, you will slip and fall. 

Edited by Steve Sells
there were too many typos even for me to tolerate :)
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We do see a lot of: (and I paraphrase)  "*MY* time is very important and *YOUR* time isn't!"  As time is really all we have given to us; spending time helping others is a gift from our time to other people's time.  As a gift we reserve the right to choose who to give it to. Who do you like giving gifts to and who do you refrain from gifting?

 

Perhaps RAH put it better:

“Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please—this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!
So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you. 
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)” 
― Robert A. HeinleinTime Enough for Love

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as a curmudgeon myself, I can help people seeking advice.  In order of importance, here is how you approach me.  1.  Bring beer: beer is a "lubricant" to any discourse I might deign to give.  2.  God gave you two eyes, and two ears, and two nostrils for a reason, and ONLY one mouth.  You should listen, look, and smell twice as much as you speak.  The nostril part is for the waft of BS that might come from my direction, from time to time.  3.  I wear a signet ring for a reason, like any potentate.  I suggest that folks seeking advice kiss my ring, for I am king!  4.  Wear safety equipment when approaching me.  A silly question could occasion flying hammers and such, me being a curmudgeon and all.  

Carry on!

​Good Morning,

I don't wear any metal on my hands. I learned the hard way, once. A ring and a starter terminal, flesh lost.

May I use my ring around the collar instead??? Please, Daddy!!:D:D

Neil

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So then the flip side of the coin, if you are too bitter and have the need to feed your ego too much, or by taking out one newbie's sins out on the next newbie, then newbie's will ask themselves are these people worth the trouble? If I have to pay for the last guy who annoyed you it may be a price I am unwilling to pay......do this enough and be too bitter of an old man and you will have happen what happens to many an old bitter man before you, no one will listen and the world will lose the information you carry with you to your grave......valuable information yes, but very invaluable if it dies with you.....

irish bagpipe makers where down to 4 in 1968 many died too bitter and too proud to pass it on, much of their knowledge is now lost to this world, rotting in a grave somewhere. There are now over 200 full time makers of the Uilleann pipes, because they realized it was dying with them and change had to be made.

Its a shame that the male ego often leads to this conclusion, imagine all the trades info we would have at our disposal if ego, self serving and plain old grouchiness where not a factor in driving the youth away from tradeswork.......

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Chad makes a valid point, well said.  I'm thinking about my father, the very definition of a curmudgeon, he died three years ago and spent more of his life denying people his wisdom than sharing it.  Even his own children.  And I've got to believe at the end he regretted it.  There's a saying, "Everything you want lives on the other side of fear."  Guardedness and crankiness have their place in some circumstances, but in the end I don't think we'll regret what we gave, only what we withheld. 

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Good Morning, 

This whole conversation is about sharing thoughts, I don't believe anyone is being a REAL, "Ol' Goat".

I read a Prayer at a very close friends funeral, "The Dash" written by Linda Ellis. In my mind, that is what Life is all about. How do you, live your Dash?

I believe that ABANA was started for the same reason that Chad just explained about the Bag-Pipers. Prior to that, the Blacksmith's kept their secrets to themselves, I don't want someone else knowing what I do. I am a believer in passing on the Knowledge and the ability to appreciate that there is more than one way to do something, Not Just, "Do it my way". I have been teaching this Trade/Hobby for a long time, one of the most important ingredients is the ability to reason and understand why something is approached this or that way. The absolute MOST IMPORTANT COMMODITY is HUMOUR. If we can't laugh at ourselves or with our friends, neighbours, fellow smiths, Then we have nothing.

just my $.02

Neil

 

The Dash, How to Live your Dash.docx

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There is information and there is *dangerous* information; you kinda want to know a bit more about a person before you discuss case hardening with xxxxxxxx, quenching in yyyyyyy---or strong xyz solutions, xxxx vvvvvvv, etc.  Even if we think that *you* were a cautious and safety conscious person we gotta remember that *anyone* can access these posts---shoot I went back and changed the names to duds cause I didn't want to risk a high grade idiot to research themselves a grave or permanent disability!

Now quenching in blood doesn't work as well as a good brine solution, and a good brine solution is a lot less smelly than quenching in stale urine. Those experiments may bring out the pitchforks and torches and a mob of your neighbors; but not get you damaged if you are fast. (We used to buy blood from the slaughterhouse to make blood bait for catfish fishing...)

Edited by ThomasPowers
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A grumpy old fart is grumpy because he chooses to be. It is possible to enhance his currant state of grumpiness by speaking before thinking. But, it is highly unlikely to gain favor just by being polite. Many times members here could choose to ignore a question an offer no reply, but instead spend their valuable time to type a rude smart xxxed  post. Some people are hateful and grumpy because it makes them feel empowered. Being courteous ain't gonna change that.

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Well. As this thread was started as a descusioan with a bit of toung and cheak, one shouldnt be so full of their selves as to take it compleay seriusly.

that said, I will happily take my acumilated wisdom to grave befor sharing it with a fool who belives he is entitled to my respect. I and only I will deside if you are worthy of my respect, now as I generaly treat folks with respect, and Willingly share what others, or life in general has shared with me, I have little use for folks that atleast dont return that respect. As a parent, if i think your just a young fool I may again offer you advice ( generaly a bit gruffly) on how to treat your acute case of cranial rectul inversion. If i find that you still suffer from moral diarea, i will then atempt to avoid you. For fools that then seek to persue me... I will resort to "negative reinforcement" of the most pavlovian kind

one old groch who is ofering the use of a "come along"

Edited by Charles R. Stevens
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The thread was started in order to help folks navigate the mine field of personalities on this site and in the world in general. If you want information it is the older generation that has the knowledge. They worked all their life to accumulate that knowledge. As they find younger individuals that express an interest, they can and will pass the knowledge on. If no one expresses interest, they wait. They do not search for someone as they already have the knowledge.

"If you do not use it, you loose it." As soon as the forge cools, the machinery slows to a halt, and the hammers start to collect dust the memories fade. As each generation grows older, EACH death takes with it a lifetime of knowledge. All the knowledge that individual collected, experienced, or learned, is gone, forever. 

 

We need to figure out a way to communicate with the gentle and knowledgeable person lives inside the hard, protective, outer shell.

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A person doesn't have to earn my respect and I'm almost always courteous. It's not too terribly hard to lose my respect though and I can't think of a good reason to waste time on folk I have no use for. If someone can't handle being talked to like an adult they THEY have the problem, not I. Why should I make someone else's problem mine? I'm not going to lead folk who think they want to learn blacksmithing by the hand unless they really need it but for the most part they don't, they just want to know the "secret." Again,not my problem if they don't like the secret.

Right now we have a young man, barely past pre-teen who I consider a man. He asks questions to the best of his ability and does his best to apply the answers. He asks honest questions and gets honest answers. He doesn't suck up and doesn't make excuses, talks like a man and takes it like a man. For this young Man I'm proud and honored to help however I can.

I have bad days and sometimes snap or am just testy. I've gone off the rails a couple times for no good reason and have apologized when I realized it. I'm not normally a "grumpy old fart". Normally I'm a joker, love a good pun, funny stories, etc. I only turn into the "grumpy old fart" if provoked, provided my blood sugar is within reasonable nodding distance of range.

I don't want much special, polite is plenty but I don't care for people who bait me or tell me I HAVE to pass on my hard won knowledge while being nicey nice. I'll tell you what I HAVE to do here, I HAVE to not use language inappropriate for a family site. Every thing else is voluntary I offer it as a gift, no strings. Give me crap, cop tude and you can go pound sand. Heck, I even let a person know they're crossing a line before I write them off.

That's more fair than real life.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Please, thank you, excuse me... 

Read ther responses, then try to imagine your a 47 year old farrer, raised in the Arizona dessert, living in podunk Oklahoma, that raised two girls, and has grand daughters.  Atleast when you read my responces. 

I realy try not to imagine some 20 somthing kid, when reading posts, as I remember what kind of knuckleheaded fool I was, and it embarases me. 

Yes Frosty, yes Thomas, I am still a knuckle headed fool some days, just not that kinf of knuckle headed fool

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I had a student of mine from more than 30 years ago come and visit me. He insulted me.

The night he came at the house, I gave him madame Simm's book to leaf through. The next morning, he wanted me to forge him some nails. Not feeling good that week and that day, I offered nails I have (I always forge 2 nails in the morning to get into  the flow of forging). He wanted to see it done, he wanted to see me forge. I gathered my poor old body and brought it to the forge wanting to oblige and surprised he could not see I was not in the best of shapes.

When I got the rod for his nails out of the fire, he said : "Ah! That's the way it's done. Easy." I thought it was a joke. I forged a couple of nails. Then he wanted large wing nuts I had forged. I sold him a few. He wanted me to stamp my mark on them. I heated the nuts and stamped them. Since the way I forge the wing nuts there are no flat surfaces, the punch mark was not equaly stamped. He was not happy and wanted me to stamp them again. I explained that I could not hit the same place without deforming the punch mark or the wing nut. He said "You did not bring the metal to the white heat". Remember that he had leafed through the book. I explained that you do not need a white heat to stamp such a mark.

When we were in the house again, he said like a sulking child : "I would have liked to forge the last nail".Was it the accumulation of cultivated ignorance, the sulking from a man his age, I lost it. We are talking about a man who is more than 50 years old here. I told him that the nails he saw were part of the second thousand of nails I forged ; that I threw away more cans of nails that I want to remember (those that were forged in five heats and were never nails) and that he could not have forged a nail in the 2 days he was staying with me ; that forging is not putting rods in the fire and taking them out and that no, it was not easy and that I did not take kindly that he would tell me what was the proper heat to work at ; that knowing about forging (a knowledge he did not have) and forging are different things ; that forging is an action,  something you only get to know-how a little more every day by doing ; I closed by telling him that I would only let him use my anvil and fetish Habermann hammer if he deposited 2100$ on the table in cold cash and that if the shape of any part of my anvil was changed by him, he would have just bought a used anvil! That sort of cooled the atmosphere.

I was happy when he came to visit his old philosophy teacher. It does make one proud to be remembered kindly since you do not realy know what you are doing when you teach, what impact you have on young adults (or is it old teens). But this man was still a teen and behaved in a way that demanded how would you say this ... scolding? ... put in his place? Well I did that like I have done it 30 years ago where he seems to have remained. 

To ask for knowledge be it in philosophy or forging one has to be an adult whatever age he may be at. And if at fifty or at whatever age one still belongs in a kindergarden, he should be told so and asked to come back later when he is out of there. Of course this could help a teenager who realy wants to learn. It is of no use to a 50 plus year old man who thinks, like a child, that he is the center of the earth.

Rereading this post, I sound quite serious. In fact I was. But when he was gone I smiled and thought that I had missed out on that one. I hope I'll get a signal from one of the ones I succeeded with someday.

Edited by yves
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