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Pete Howlett
10-24-2017, 07:18 AM
Here it is. Another email from a lazy teenager:


My name is..... I am contacting you today because I am building a ukelele for a school project. I was wondering if you had any advice for building my fretboard. As is only a cigar box ukulele I am not sure about anything. It is a concert ukulele. I was also wondering if you could share any tips for me to use in the general building of the instrument.

It's as if YouTube and Google didn't exist :)

DPO
10-24-2017, 10:05 AM
Here it is. Another email from a lazy teenager:



It's as if YouTube and Google didn't exist :)

Well if in the unlikely event that some teenager wanting advice dug my name out of all the world's much better banjo uke makers I would be just a little "chuffed"

Pete Howlett
10-24-2017, 10:23 AM
They had the skill to find me and I'm not on any hierarchial list that I know off, they should havè been able to find rverything they needed by asking a different question. Boolean sesrches are still valid....

Graham Greenbag
10-24-2017, 12:00 PM
Here it is. Another email from a lazy teenager:



It's as if YouTube and Google didn't exist :)

Lazy? H’mm, with respect I’d like to add some very general and broad perspective. It’s a while since my children were teenagers but I could see them sending such an email and they were far from lazy. At school (child processing plant would be a more accurate description) they were on a massive academic learning curve whilst struggling with social situations in a body that was growing and full of emotion. As a parent we were constantly encouraging our offspring and juggling limited resources - some kids had better parents than us whilst more had worse.

Yes, Google exists and some kids do know how to use it well but they have no depth of knowledge to understand much and too limited resource to focus on much. They also have no perspective of anything but their own small world and know nothing of the multiple pressures that you are under. Many do spend hours on computer games and doing stuff we think is daft - I expect our parents said similar of us - but better that than sniffing solvent and vandalising whatever they come across as they wander around in gangs. Heck, it’s tough being a parent and keeping your kids on somewhere near a sensible course is rather hard.

If this is an annual request then please take it as a compliment. A standard response indicating that you can’t help individuals whilst pointing them in the direction of particular on-line resources would help all concerned. Of course somewhere in that mass of emails the Woodworkers and Luthiers of tomorrow hide. As a teenager my Daughter approached and did work experience with her current employer; that employer saw her ability and attitudes, followed her progress through University and offered her a job on Graduation. It’s not possible to help every youth and maybe barely possible to help any but having been a parent (of school age children) I find another side to a rather battered coin. This parent would have appreciated the suggested response indicated above and, who knows, at some point your kindness will likely be rewarded in some unexpected way.

mountain goat
10-24-2017, 01:09 PM
Well said Graham.

Yankulele
10-24-2017, 01:39 PM
I agree Graham. Kids need encouragement. Even when it's inconvenient. Personally, I'm impressed he had the nerve to seek advice from one of the top ukulele builders out there. Hopefully that nerve will carry him to a more receptive door.

Nelson

Pete Howlett
10-24-2017, 02:15 PM
Interesting responses.

As a former educator of teenagers and as one who promotes learning, I am eager to help those who have enquiring minds and less so to those who simply window shop. Had they said, "I'm a bit confused as to how to make the fingerboard. I've read about the rule of 18 and don't quite understand it. Can you help me?" or, "What is the best way to get a good sound from a cigar box? Do you have to use the box as it is or should I take it apart and work on the components..."

I am on a huge long journey learning how to use CAD software and operate CAM technology. Most nights I am using online tutorials and then applying the learning by doing. After weeks of struggling with bezier curves and reaching the limit of my technical capabilites - I am robbed of fine motor control by PD and my CAD program has limited 'smoothing' capability I turned to friends for help. I sent my model to them and they helped me out. I didn't ask them to do it for me.

This student is hardly out of the starting blocks and shows no signs of groping towards a solution to their problems. I'm surprised you missed that :)

mountain goat
10-24-2017, 02:54 PM
Yes Pete, I missed that.

Your response and attitude here, with respect, seems to me to say much more about where you are at personally than it does about where this student is at in his or her stage of learning. Remember, as a former educator of teenagers, who you are dealing with: a child's mind and personality who perhaps may have less focus and ability to clearly and concisely express in words the things he wishes for than we might.

Of course we are all sympathetic to your health issues. But the fact this student had the courage to humbly contact you with a couple of basic questions about their project does not, of necessity, make them a lazy person. What is the problem in simply making a brief reply addressing a couple of important points to take note of, perhaps indicating one or two other online sites that could be of further help; heck, maybe even offering a small word of encouragement and leave it there. There is a bigger picture here that I think you may yourself have missed Pete.

Sow the seeds mate. Sow the seeds. We all gotta pass the baton one day.

sequoia
10-24-2017, 07:46 PM
Here it is. Another email from a lazy teenager: It's as if YouTube and Google didn't exist :)

Pete, I love you man, but only you could find that email annoying. Maybe instead of seeing it as an "annoying teenager", see it as an opportunity to mentor and educate a future luthier. This might cause you to feel to a moment of happiness and peace which is a great thing my friend. Feel the aloha Pete.

Andyk
10-24-2017, 09:12 PM
This is definitely a popcorn post...

Graham Greenbag
10-24-2017, 09:45 PM
Interesting responses.

As a former educator of teenagers and as one who promotes learning, I am eager to help those who have enquiring minds and less so to those who simply window shop. Had they said, "I'm a bit confused as to how to make the fingerboard. I've read about the rule of 18 and don't quite understand it. Can you help me?" or, "What is the best way to get a good sound from a cigar box? Do you have to use the box as it is or should I take it apart and work on the components..."

I am on a huge long journey learning how to use CAD software and operate CAM technology. Most nights I am using online tutorials and then applying the learning by doing. After weeks of struggling with bezier curves and reaching the limit of my technical capabilites - I am robbed of fine motor control by PD and my CAD program has limited 'smoothing' capability I turned to friends for help. I sent my model to them and they helped me out. I didn't ask them to do it for me.

This student is hardly out of the starting blocks and shows no signs of groping towards a solution to their problems. I'm surprised you missed that :)


With the greatest of respect could I suggest that the responses to your original post were generic in that they applied to many individual young people and that they addressed what you described as an annual event. I do recognise the massive help that you have given to many people over the years and your role both as a provider and user of education.

From a parental perspective each child is an individual and therefore grouping them and their attitudes together as a mass unit which you then expect to respond in some way is a flawed expectation if pragmatic - the alternative one to one education is rarely possible and it has its own problems too. Might I suggest to you, remind even, that education is a forming, additive and consolidating process; as such some students (and year groups of) are in very different places to others - one size does not not fit all properly and never has.

Dealing with kids is difficult, they are so variable. Yes, some are less industrious than others and some look for ways of avoiding work and/or quick fixes but both can be for many reasons; these days I try not to be judgemental and instead part of the solution. So if you feel that the attitudes of some young folk are poor - which to me is not the core message of your original post - then that would be as true today as it ever has been. I’ve seem those attitudes both in those educated alongside my own children and during my own early years, conflicting with then is typically pointless (well that’s been my experience) whereas engagement, distraction and diversion can and mostly does produce positive results.

Might I suggest again that where you see what you feel to be inappropriate requests you manage them with a standard response directing them to resources and explaining that you are not able to engage with all the many individuals that contact you.

Pete Howlett
10-24-2017, 10:48 PM
I don't expect any support for my post - the other times I have posted the main focus of the replies has been along the lines, as here, "You're a right meaney. Help the guy!" I had however, hoped we had evolved here a bit...

I'm afraid you all missed my point. I help and have helped those who show they have done at least some rudimentary research and come across a genuine hurdle that I can help them over. Several years ago, a 13 year old kid visited my workshop which is in a remote location to show me his uke he had built in his Dad's shed, with only YouTube and ny videos to help him. I was blown away at what he had achieved and spent half a day demonstrating techniques for him. It was ezciting. He went away with a kit of parts and my admiration... that's the sort of person who has earned my respect and for whom I will gladly GIVE my time and where appropriate, resources. And there are countless others who have received help and surprises in the post because they made the effort to stretch out their hand!

I really am not one to crow about what I do do so I am not going to print my reply to the email that is the subject of this post - it contained 2 important pointers to sucess with their project but did not answer their questions which with two key strokes would have given them A grade information for the didactic and necessary research element (which contains equal weighting with the pratcical task) of their project. And yes, it does reveal lots about me. I'll do anything for those who are prepared to meet me some of the way. If you just want a hand-out, forget it - you are not the future of this industry or someone I would want to mentor... I have experience of that and it is not always rewarding and never delivers the outcome you expect.

Lastly, I reference my PD not because I want sympathy. I truly am greatful for it because it has helped me find ways of improving what I do. It does however limit me and tasks like moving a mouse smoothly, hand sanding or picking up a screw, dropped tool or fretwire off the bench are my Waterloo moments. I had to develop a way of bolting on the necks which has become a significant improvement on my past method simply because I could no longer work through the soundhole... I quote this to illustrate that we are all on an endlessly stretching learning curve that even the best of us (and I mean that figuratively) has to acknowledge to be humbled by.

Finally, thanks for the responses. I am glad you care and hope you live by what you propose I should do. I know I do and no request goes unanswered or cry for help ignored. It's just sometimes the answer won't be what is wanted :)

Graham Greenbag
10-24-2017, 11:44 PM
Yes, I think we might well have missed your original point and I would very much hope that my responses do not appear to be critical. ‘We’ answered what we read in your original post; sorry but the message recieved (and answered) was not the message that you had intened to send.

Good luck to you on what you’re doing and all the best.

Doc_J
10-25-2017, 02:49 AM
Pete, I understand your feelings and point. As an engineering professor, I run into similar situations all the time.

When I have a student seeking help on an assigned problem, I ask the student to show me how they’ve started it. I’m happy to look over their work and point them in the right direction. However, when a student has not attempted, not written a single line or word, put zero effort in the solution, looking for an entire solution from me, I send him away to review the example problems and start the problem himself. The student is welcome to come back when they have specific questions in reference to their attempt. Understand that prior to this point I have worked numerous example problems, after going over the underlying engineering and science principles. My students also have required textbooks and online tutorial resources.

My motivation: If students don’t begin the process of seeking & developing their own solutions, they will never grasp of the subject concepts or pass the course. The ultimate goal is for them to be able to apply the approaches to problems yet unseen.

Pete Howlett
10-25-2017, 06:08 AM
What is a popcorn post? Is it toffee or salted?

robedney
10-25-2017, 06:57 AM
Salted, lots of butter -- American cinema variety. Go to the theatre, sit back and watch the drama/comedy unfold.

I get requests for information as well. There is very little available regarding the making of carbon fiber instruments, so I get a fair number of posts asking for information. I am of the view -- which is not universal nor should it be -- that in luthiery the sharing of knowledge is to everyone's benefit. Moreover, any kid showing any interest in actually making something gets all the encouragement from me that I can reasonably offer. Graham Greenbag's posts regarding teenagers and parenting are spot-on in my experience. When offered the opportunity to stimulate an interest and/or mentor a kid from afar it's something of an honor in my humble opinion. However, there is no intended criticism here toward those who have no inclination to do so. We all have to prioritize our time and decide what it takes to keep us individually sane.

I completely get Pete's original post. It appears that the teenager is asking for an email reply that fully details the making of a cigar-box uke.

However, this kid at the very least showed the initiative to find Pete and send an email, which in my experience was perhaps all s/he could muster in the moment :). I would have referred said teenager to Cigar Box Nation where all sorts of information is available, along with parts from C.B. Gitty at reasonable prices (no affiliation or endorsement).

TjW
10-25-2017, 07:11 AM
Here it is. Another email from a lazy teenager:



It's as if YouTube and Google didn't exist :)

It wouldn't be too unusual for part of an assignment to be to contact an expert. Or it wasn't unusual 45 years ago, anyway.

Andyk
10-25-2017, 09:53 AM
What is a popcorn post? Is it toffee or salted?

A popcorn post is one of those posts where you can sit back with some popcorn and watch people have opposite views and usually it gets argumentative.
This one luckily hasn't turned nasty. I've seen a few over the past few years get really heated.

Cheers
Andy...

Pete Howlett
10-25-2017, 11:28 AM
Ah. I thought so. However this is a bit unusual cos I fully expect to be totally blasted when I challenge this modern vierw of entitlement. As I said, I helped them some and here is their reply:

I would like to say thanks for the email back! As I was researching ukuleles I read a lot about you, and I hope Helen is doing okay. My mom had cancer and I know it is a difficult thing to go through. I am very impressed by your ukulele making skills. Thank you for taking time out of your day to email me.
You see, I am not the ogre you think I am. When I make these posts itis to stimulate debate and to see how many respondents actually understand the post. I used to jump up and fire all guns blazing before I got a grip on myself and asked the question before posting, :"Why is this person posting about this certain thing?"
I promised about 6years ago a tenor uke making video. As the years have gone by I do not see how any such thing would be at all commercially viable or even valid given the mountains of totally free, if not conflicting and sometimes downright wrong out there. If I was to single out the most useful making series it would be the widely panned and spitefully criticised one done by the genius Mathias Wandell - he achieved in half a day what it took Taylor and the other giants months to figure out. Instead of doing the received wisdom thing of trial and error determining 'springback' Mathias did it by math! His whole build was peppered with lightbulb moments which were largely ignored because of luthier snobbery - how could a guy who has never built and instrument dare to publish his efforts on YouTube?
I think you will find that a day spent in my workshop will give you a totally different view of where I stand regarding this craft and how to get it into a public space. I have already written the first unit of a program of study that anyone could follow setting up a course on ukulele making. It draws on my experience and the sythesis of all those interviews I did with my peers last year. When I get more time I will publish it, FOR FREE and unlike my failed attempt to make a video or launch an online course, this one will happen. It is in peer review at present.

Rllink
10-26-2017, 06:40 AM
An interesting psychology going on in this thread.

Pete Howlett
10-26-2017, 06:42 AM
I try to avoid laying out all personal details because it seems vain. Hence when I post I tend to edit the circumstances and keep anyone inolved anonymous. As is usually the case I end up 'revealing all' because I haven't properly or thoroughly explained the case.

Ukador
10-26-2017, 07:03 AM
Do you know the story about the lumberjack who has no time to sharpen his blunt axe because he still has so much wood to chop?

You seem to invest quite some time to write about why you don't have time to do this and that anymore.

Rllink
10-26-2017, 07:43 AM
I try to avoid laying out all personal details because it seems vain. Hence when I post I tend to edit the circumstances and keep anyone inolved anonymous. As is usually the case I end up 'revealing all' because I haven't properly or thoroughly explained the case.
Why post it at all? What were you expecting to come out of it? Just asking.

kkimura
10-26-2017, 08:48 AM
Sometimes just the act of sharing is a legitimate end in of itself. I personally find ways to benefit from most if not all that I read here on the UU forums.

mds725
10-26-2017, 10:11 AM
Peter, it's too bad we don't know what you said in your response to the kid's email message. I get the feeling you may have missed a teachable moment in which you could have taught this kid something about how to formulate and ask the questions you wish he had been able to formulate himself. In his shoes, I would like to have heard what you meant by meeting you part way in contacting you with questions rather than, for lack of a more delicate way to say this, being mocked for my "ignorance" about seeking information from you in your original post. When I taught legal writing to law students several years ago, my primary concern with almost every question they asked was to give them some guidance on how to be self-sufficient in answering their questions. I hope that in your response to him, you took the time to explain to him what resources are out there and how he could most efficiently use them. Anything short of that is, in my view, a missed opportunity.

Pete Howlett
10-26-2017, 11:42 AM
I'm not sure what to say. I'm not in the workshop at present because I am caring for my wife who is recovering from surgery and so I have time on my hands...

What I read in many of the contra-posts in this thread is that somehow it is mean, even wrong to have a view that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I'm also somewhat disappointed that critical response quickly turns to personal criticsm. You don't know me so how dare you make a 'personal' point? That is a very weak basis for an argument...

Ach it's late and I no longer have the energy to walk through this. Thanks for your insights.

robedney
10-26-2017, 12:08 PM
Just an opinion here, but it seems like a good place to end this thread.

dmecha1012
12-20-2017, 10:42 PM
With the greatest of respect could I suggest that the responses to your original post were generic in that they applied to many individual young people and that they addressed what you described as an annual event. I do recognise the massive help that you have given to many people over the years and your role both as a provider and user of education.

From a parental perspective each child is an individual and therefore grouping them and their attitudes together as a mass unit which you then expect to respond in some way is a flawed expectation if pragmatic - the alternative one to one education is rarely possible and it has its own problems too. Might I suggest to you, remind even, that education is a forming, additive and consolidating process; as such some students (and year groups of) are in very different places to others - one size does not not fit all properly and never has.

Dealing with kids is difficult, they are so variable. Yes, some are less industrious than others and some look for ways of avoiding work and/or quick fixes but both can be for many reasons; these days I try not to be judgemental and instead part of the solution. So if you feel that the attitudes of some young folk are poor - which to me is not the core message of your original post - then that would be as true today as it ever has been. I’ve seem those attitudes both in those educated alongside my own children and during my own early years, conflicting with then is typically pointless (well that’s been my experience) whereas engagement, distraction and diversion can and mostly does produce positive results.

Might I suggest again that where you see what you feel to be inappropriate requests you manage them with a standard response directing them to resources and explaining that you are not able to engage with all the many individuals that contact you.



If I may..................are you saying that Pete had conflicted with this kid, and did not engage him? I ask because I personally could not find any evidence of that as much as I searched. Do you have a Howlett Hack that I haven't discovered yet?

dmecha1012
12-20-2017, 10:53 PM
Pete,

The appropriate response to that specific type of question should somewhere along the lines of .........

Tip1) Be very careful when cutting the Fretboard
Tip 2) Always use sufficient lighting in your work area
Tip 3) "Measure Twice and cut once"

You have now "completely" and respectfully
answered his questions as posed.

(And he will never get That kind of Motivation and Support from YouTube......just confusing and boring facts) :) :cool:

dmecha1012
12-20-2017, 11:37 PM
Yes Pete, I missed that.

Your response and attitude here, with respect, seems to me to say much more about where you are at personally than it does about where this student is at in his or her stage of learning. Remember, as a former educator of teenagers, who you are dealing with: a child's mind and personality who perhaps may have less focus and ability to clearly and concisely express in words the things he wishes for than we might.

Of course we are all sympathetic to your health issues. But the fact this student had the courage to humbly contact you with a couple of basic questions about their project does not, of necessity, make them a lazy person. What is the problem in simply making a brief reply addressing a couple of important points to take note of, perhaps indicating one or two other online sites that could be of further help; heck, maybe even offering a small word of encouragement and leave it there. There is a bigger picture here that I think you may yourself have missed Pete.

Sow the seeds mate. Sow the seeds. We all gotta pass the baton one day.


Rule #1 - always begin a comment/manifesto with a gratuitous insult:
"with respect, seems to me to say much more about where you are at personally than it does about where this student is"

Rule #2 - Just in case Rule #1 is not recognized, always follow up with a "veiled" insult.
"Of course we are all sympathetic to your health issues. "

Rule#3 - Always "create facts" to back your statements up . It is not important if they actually happened or not.
"What is the problem in simply making a brief reply....." (You are actually aware that was not done ?)

Rule #4 - Always bring up the non-existent "bigger picture" to ram your point down.

While you see a "complaint", I simply see a one sentence satirical comment made to third parties (Us).
And by the way, It was humorous.

Pete.........For G-d's sake......Don't keep letting these guys "suck you in"! .........you will NEVER win..........they are waiting for you...... and they live for this nonsense :)



.

Pete Howlett
12-21-2017, 09:19 AM
I recused myself from this discussion ages ago.... I'm surprised it's still going. You can get daily updates, tips and wisdom by tuning into my Facebook c=group "Pete Howlett Ukulele Club'. Shortly to run a blog called 'The Ukulele Maker's Workshop'. You might find it interesting.

dmecha1012
12-21-2017, 06:06 PM
I recused myself from this discussion ages ago.... I'm surprised it's still going. You can get daily updates, tips and wisdom by tuning into my Facebook c=group "Pete Howlett Ukulele Club'. Shortly to run a blog called 'The Ukulele Maker's Workshop'. You might find it interesting.


Pete, when do you estimate this blog will premier? :drool:

Pete Howlett
12-21-2017, 07:44 PM
Soon. My brother is going to do it for me and he is semi retired so has the time to set it up properly... there will be free content plus paid for premium I believe. PM me David to let me know how you are. Haven't heard from you for some time now.