Saturday, April 11, 2020

Why Those Of You Who Think You Know Everything Annoy Those Who Do

Revisiting a Commander Zero thread from a couple of days ago kick-started the muse today.

Watching people try to do in 15 minutes what some of us have been doing for 15 years and far more, is a snark-inducing moment.

It’s akin to watching someone who thinks they could perform at Carnegie Hall tomorrow, if only they had a grand piano and a tux. Yes, that’s it, clearly the only thing you lack is the tux and the instrument, then everything will be fine.

For that level of facepalm, the best therapy involves bushel baskets of rotten fruit, to take to the concert.

Perpetual blog Q.: “Hi, I’m totally clueless, but I’m in a bind, because reality. How do I suddenly become a doctor/lawyer/HAM radio extra-class operator/farmer/nurse/civil engineer/Tier I JSOC ninja gunslinger/Karate black belt/master mechanic/home contractor/nuclear physicist/electrical engineer? And by somewhere between noon and 3PM today, EST? Any help would be appreciated.

My stock A.: Have you got a hat? One that lights up and says “Lion tamer”?

After that, you hold their hand, and walk them back to the small end, and suggest actually learning something from the beginning. You you learn everything.

“Q.: How do I get rich?”
A.: Pay attention in school twenty years ago, and start working towards your goal consistently and relentlessly.
“Q.: But that’s no help…I need the money nooooooow!
A.: Yeah. Sux to be you, huh?

Sigh. Shakes head. Goes back to stacking cans and sandbags, and cleaning weapons.

There's nothing wrong with being clueless. We all are, on any given topic. Some people know a lot about a lot of things, but nobody knows everything about everything.

But the height of arrogance is to think: "Oh, you're not very bright. Distill the essence of your wisdom to me in 15 minutes, and also your lifelong experience from 10/20/30/40/more years doing what you do, because I think I could learn it during commercial breaks from the Idiot Tube."

Yeah, no.

So, look. You can learn to do one thing from YouTube in half an hour.
Disassemble a rifle and clean it, dig a well, make a dovetail miter joint, whatever.
It won't make you an expert, but you can become an expert in that, after you do it 10 or 50 or 1000 times. That's how Ranger/SF guys get good at what they do. They don't learn how to do special secret squirrel stuff, so much as they learn how to do the basics flawlessly, every time. It isn't the 100 pitches that made that Perfect Game happen; it's the 100,000 pitches that were thrown leading up to it. I've told the story of a friend who was a multi-time Olympic skating competitor, who blew my late adolescent mind when he casually dropped that learning a simple jump was falling on your ass 500 times. And getting back up to do it again. And again. And again. It's really that basic.

The corollary is true, too. If you're too old to fall on your ass, you're never going to learn that jump. And even if you can, you aren't going to learn it today. This year? Maybe. But only if you
a) Start. And
b) Keep getting back up when you fall.

Can I set up a HAM shack right now?
But I know how to use a radio, the difference between HF/VHF/UHF, how to talk on a radio, the phonetic alphabet, etc. So I could get a basic ticket, if I study and practice. The books, and the radio, only work if you use them both, and just buying a $5K rig isn't going to make me an antenna whiz Extra-class genius by lunchtime.
Any more than just buying a $5K golf club set is going to make you Tiger Woods, or buying an ivory and ebony-inlaid 2-pc. custom pool cue is going to make you Minnesota Fats.

If you want to know stuff, you have to put in the time.
Time is the only thing you can't bank. You spend it whether you want to, or not, and you have no idea how much you have at any point in this life.

So stop frittering it away, and invest it.
Wisely would be ideal.

And realize that, just like figure skating, you're probably going to have to fall on your ass 500 times to get something down right. Plan for that, too. Case in point.

So probably better to do that work long before you need to know it.
Let alone use it.

A few years back, between jobs, I decided to learn to play drums for real, instead of just air-drumming my life away. Yes, the drum kit helped, but the six months of practice, every day, sometimes twice a day, 2-3 hours, until my arms hurt, because I could, and because it took my mind off a situation I couldn't change in the short-term, are what did it. And I'm still not Neal Peart, or Mick Fleetwood. Yet. But years later, I could cover a crapton of songs from the Who, the Stones, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty, the Cars, or even tour with AC/DC now (really, as long as drinking and drugs weren't a requirement), because I've beaten whole catalogs of those songs for real into muscle memory. I've got the broken sticks and thicker arms to prove it. And it's been a blast. And no, it ain't rocket surgery. But it was a skill set I didn't have then and do now, and is time invested.

Still on my list: HAM radio. Welding. Piano and guitar. Tai Chi. About nineteen more languages, on top of the two I have now. A pilot's license. I'll certainly die before I get through everything I'd like to learn, but I won't die wishing I'd learned things but just sat around never trying.

A lot of you just now have probably got a lot of unexpected free time on your hands.
I mean a lot. Stop frittering it away.
Make a list of what you want to learn, and a time and study schedule, and stick to it.
Invest the time. Then practice. Teach yourself to learn.
(Bonus: Focusing on something you can do for real is a great way to tune out the drumbeat - see what I did there - of panic about the 1001 things you can't affect, with everything that's going on right now. Ask me how I know.)
That's the only way you're ever going to learn to be the expert you aren't.

We're going to get through this.
We just are.
If you're not, sux to be you, doesn't it?

But if you can do a thing or ten when it's over that you couldn't do when it started, it won't all be wasted downtime and old movie fests, will it?


RandyGC said...

Good advice.

I think the only thing worse than someone who knows nothing and wants to learn it all now, today, is the person that is highly accomplished in one field and thinks that expertise auto-magically transfers to another field.

Prime recent example is FLP (Fascist Little Prick) Bloomberg. I'll grant his expertise in building a bushiness intelligence company and leveraging that into a specialist media company, but, as he proved with his comments on farming for instance, everyone is stupid about something. (Sometimes a lot of things).

McChuck said...

DuoLingo is a remarkably decent app for language learning. And it's free, for basic use.


Something I saw years ago:

"A master doesn't do it until they get it right. A master does it until they can't do it wrong."

Meanwhile, fortunately, I still have a job. Unfortunately, I am also - thanks to my wife's depression - parenting for two-single digit kids, and a kid in their 40's who is (emotionally) a sulky & rebellious teenager. And doing all the household chores. Essentially, I'm a single dad.

But that does leave precious little time for picking up new things.

Warren said...

Read once that it takes 40,000 hours to be an expert On a subject, going to school for whatever, may make you competent but it is the ten or so years after that give expertise.

Ann example of this is the years it takes to properly train at a martial arts dojo

Here in Exburbia, Florida the lockdown is in full swing as suffocating my own bodily fluids has, without government intervention long before gov action convinced me to stay home. We are turning the back yard into a garden, not the front as of yet, because I don't want attract the interest of the two legged locusts when and if the time comes, which it probably will.

But gardening is not just as easy as farming is to Mayor Bloomberg, you can't just toss some seeds in the ground, water it and voila food.

It has taken a while to learn the property small as it is. The soil is not that good and had been hit with roundup over the years.

Tale of two trees. One morninga tree I planted is over 40 feet high another one planted same day a few feet away is about 6 feet high others are barely that high.

If you are planning to grow some of your food best get going now because the learning curve is a bitch. And seeds are hard for come by, at least by mail order, which his how I do my shopping now.

Unfortunately the lockdown has prevented me from enjoying the one recreational activity I still engage in, going to the range. I make no claims to being a gunslinger but from an early age target practice has been something I have enjoyed,

Aesop I enjoy reading your scribes because you are an over the horizon thinker, Which most people aren't, best wishes and keep safe

tweell said...

I've been gardening a bit. I started 36 tomato plants from seed this year. I have one of those left, and more knowledge about what not to do. This includes how to deal with bugs that love eating young tomato sprouts, alas. The tomato plants I got from the nursery are doing well, so I've learned more than last year.

So far I'm a terrible peanut farmer, but we'll see how it goes. Putting in watermelon seeds this weekend. Weeding and watering isn't rocket science, but since I'm no rocket scientist, that's fine.

Loves to sew said...

I totally agree I have been a lawyer for 30 years and it drives me nuts when someone says, it must be nice to be a lawyer, like yeah I just opened up my drawer one day and the tooth fairy delivered my law degree just like that, it had nothing to do with sweating my ass through seven years of college and sitting for the bar for three days
Then they say, thanks for talking to me on the phone, now Ill just go to legal zoom and do it myself. (Sure because you understand any of those little boxes you are checking on that form) So you go on to legal zoom and when you screw it all up because you didnt want to pay me $500.00 because you knew what you were doing, I will have to charge your children 10x that much to fix the mess you made, because
1. you wanted to save money
2. You know more that I do

So following up with Aesop today if you need a will or estate planning documents during this mess, go to someone who knows what they are doing and get it done correctly because in this mess we are in getting it done correctly by someone who knows what they are doing, not your friends uncles manicurist who is studying to be a paralegal because getting this done correctly, really really matters

The Freeholder said...

I have my Extra ham ticket, and oddly enough, I'm actually engaged in rebuilding my ham shack.

If there is anything I can offer to help you on the quest, feel free to get in touch. I'd consider it an honor to repay just a bit of what I've gotten from you.

paladin3001 said...

Things I can do at home. Research stuff. Figure out what I can do better. Other projects? Going to finally make that bow I have been thinking about. Put up a proper backstop and practice with the one I bought last year regularly. Get better and more proficient with it and teach the wife to use it as well.
Work on other things and figure out what I can get away with at home. More reading, and more teaching the wife back up skills. Help her out in the garden(mostly moving stuff around and heavy lifting that she requires).

When things are finally done, we will be ready for our own future plans. Fuck this shit generally, we want away from the maddening crowds of covidiots around here.

David Spence said...

This is why Ebay always has a crap-ton of used musical instruments and fly fishing gear.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Unfortunately I am somewhat a jack of all trades and master of none and to old to become a master. I have gardened on a small scale for quite a few years some great many not so great. Corn still haven't been able to avoid the earworms. Think about the pesticides you use to treat plants if you do. Those supplies may not be available in the future can you grow without them, I will learn because a hundred years ago they did. Soap, friend of wife's makes it I will learn.



Been doing duolingo for some time - latest streak approaching 100 days! And now that the kids don't have official school I've been getting them onto it for both school language (Spanish) and religious language (Hebrew).

I've flirted with adding Russian so that, over time, I can listen in and understand what the wife is saying about me, but as I outlined above, I am already balls to the wall handling, functionally, three kids.

SiGraybeard said...

About 30 years ago, I got the urge to learn piano. I had played guitar for 15 years before that and it was the only instrument I ever had lessons on.

My point is that I learned a very important lesson during that couple of years. The number of "Piano 1" books sold every year is many times the number of Piano 2 books. They got to the point where they bought the book to sit down and do the work, but even then couldn't bring themselves to stick with it. I think that says a lot.

I made myself go through the second book, but eventually went back to guitar about 10 years ago.

On the other hand, I became an engineer because I'd find being touring musician to be way too boring.

I can echo The Freeholder: I have an Extra class license, have been a ham since '76, and will help with anything you ask. I've also helped another blogger on my list narrow down his choices in getting his ticket.

G-man said...

Deployed to Europe. Since we have the time, the small team I'm with is doing weekly ruck marches. Hurt less this week than last, will hurt less next week. Lather, rinse, repeat.

elysianfield said...

"I can listen in and understand what the wife is saying about me..."

Your peace of mind depends upon not knowing.

If you could speak to your dog, would you really want to know what it thinks about you?

Kanbei said...

Thanks to the host and many others here for your insights, often in the form of reminders for me :)

Working on Japanese language skills, dry firing, BJJ solo drills. Lots of chin ups. That and 2 very little kids, a wife, and thankfully a job keep me pretty busy.

Thanks to all for your insights.

FredLewers said...

This shit is pure comedy gold for me. I'm highly intolerant of stupid. I love watching stupid people crash and burn due to arrogance.
But over the years I've learned the hard way to "don't be that guy"
One of the easiest ways to screw up a task that you used to do all the time is to not do it for a while. For example, I grew up doing tree work and logging. I went a year without climbing due to a massive project that consumed all my time. The next time I saddled up I couldn't remember how to tie my friction hitch. Stone cold brain failure. I used to tie that knot blindfolded or behind my back to convince the newbies that they needed to practice, practice and practice some more BEFORE they risked their life in a tree. Since I stepped on crank with climbing spurs that one time I now spend time practice climbing if I don't climb for a month or more. Saves me a lot of unnecessary humiliation. So if you haven't done the task in a while practice it BEFORE you need to perform it. ESPECIALLY if it's a vital skill or something that your living depends on you getting it right the first time. Sometimes you don't get a do over...

FredLewers said...

Bwahahaha. True dat! A lot of dreams get crushed on the rocks of reality.

Nick Flandrey said...

"the small team I'm with is doing weekly ruck marches."

--I was amazed to find out that there is a club here in Houston that gets together to ruck every weekend. And it's hundreds of guys! Sounds like masochism to me :-)

I've been working a bit of the honey do list, and organizing the piles of stuff I've been stacking for the last few years. There are a lot of piles. LOTS of projects too, like getting on the air with packet and digital modes. I've got the hardware, and d/l'd the software, and even got some of it connected once before, but never had the time to get all the way thru the project from start to finish. And I've got mobiles and APRS to get installed in the vehicles, and satellite antennas for weather maps, and and and .... instead I'm checking blogs and hiding from the heat.

Gotta plan Easter dinner too.

There's lots to do and it's a great life if you don't weaken*....



FredLewers said...

I hope you'll take this as a word of encouragement. I've been married twice. First time cost me everything but a knapsack of clothes. 24 years into the second marriage and better than ever. In spite of our individual baggage...
You can't change her. Only God and her can change her. What you can do is keep your vows. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until one of you dies.
I read a book that changed my marriage when I was ready to walk away. The 5 love languages by Gary Chapman. It opened my eyes to my failures. And when I worked on me it got better. Not overnight but rather quickly. The information in that book changed EVERY relationship I have for the better. EVERY RELATIONSHIP!!! Even my relationships with enemys...
Robert Heinlein wrote something that gave me an aha moment. Actually several somethings but this one is: Always remember that your enemy isn't a villain in his own eyes. If you remember that and apply it you might be able to convert him to an ally and if not you'll be able to kill him without animosity of necessary.
A pastor told me once that 'the lost souls' aren't the enemy. They're prisoners of war in the enemy's prison...
Please, learn your wife's love language and speak it to her frequently. You'll be surprised at the results sir.
Be encouraged, if a completely dysfunctional couple like my wife and I can make it y'all can too.
Drop me a line if you want to chat or vent. My name at gmail.

Unknownsailor said...

I'm definitely with you on learning to weld. I plan on starting a full custom VW 1973 Super Bug shell on a custom tube chassis soon, and need to know how to weld steel tubing together. Luckily the community college I got my Associate from is just down the road, so when the stay home order is lifted I can go learn from experts.

Wayne said...

I recall several years ago hearing a story about the great South African golfer, Gary Player. A fan came up to him at a tournament and said, "Mr Player, I would give ANYTHING to hit the golf ball like you do."

Player replied, "No, you wouldn't. You mean that you would be willing to spend a lot of money for someone to teach you the secret. Here it is. Go out tomorrow morning and hit 1000 balls until your hands bleed. Then, bandage up you hands, and hit another 1000 in the afternoon. Do this 6 days a week for at least 5 years, probably 10. That's the secret."

Will said...

Bear Claw:

a blogging farmer (Farmer Frank, gone now) stated that with fields next to current high-tech farmers, the traditional type farming communities get 25% less output. That's professional compared to professional, so that would be your target for food production without any chemical helpers. Don't expect to match it, just consider it a benchmark to shoot for.

Historian said...

@RandyGC- I call it the "fallacy of universal competence." It seems to mainly afflict highly educated people in positions of authority. I see it in some doctors, lawyers and senior military officers mainly, but I run into that attitude across the spectrum of educated people. There are similar types in the trades and service industries, but those are less frequent and tend towards the blowhard type, as it is said, "all mouth and no bottom".

Aesop, I've been polishing my mediocre arc welding skills for decades; I do enough to be good enough for the farm, (my welds hold but they are not smooth,) but not enough to be really good. My grinders get a lot of work. I agree, there is NO substitute for experience, which means making mistakes.

On that point-
Many decades ago, when I got to high school, I joined the chess club. Our advisor, the science teacher, invited me to play him in a game to evaluate my ability, and he uncharacteristically made a blunder which I capitalized on to win my first game against him. He graciously congratulated me, although visibly annoyed. I proceeded to lose the next 43 games in a row to him, as he was very focused on not letting a 14 year old crush him. I learned from each game, and from the books in the club library, and finally beat him by out-thinking him on game 45. Eventually, I got good enough to win the position of 4th board, in a club which had the state and regional champion as first board.

I had to be willing to get repeatedly beaten, to lose, in order to get good enough to get better. Time and again, I have seen young people attempt a new skill, and having failed a few times, drop the effort. The key to winning in life is persistence and perserverance; as Churchill put it- "Never give up! Never, never, never, in small things or large."

With regard to all who seek the Light,

Tractorguy said...

I love learning new things, and I hate wasting time. My advice to people that tell me "but I just don't have time":

1. I ask, "Do you watch sports on TV?" They almost universally answer "yes", to which I reply: "Just how much has watching sports contributed to your life, especially your ability to learn and do ?" They generally change the subject then, but I've made my point.

2. Time spent driving a car is potential HOURS to study languages. Go get the Pimmsleur audio books to learn whatever language, burn them to your music player, and listen to them in the car while driving. Now you're double-tasking without a lot of additional effort. Of course do not do this while driving in inclement weather.



Speaking of learning new things... absent a local adult education place to learn such, whom would the group suggest for me to learn:

1. Home canning / fruits and vegetables?
2. Sausage making - especially as a way to preserve hunted meat?

I have NO idea on the first, but was thinking of searching for local deer-processing butchers and asking to volunteer in exchange for the education.

Aesop said...


Tractorguy said...

NITZAKHON, there is a ton of information out there. Just about any pressure canner you buy will have detailed information in the instruction manual. Aesop's references above are great, and Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia Of Country Living" is a great reference too. My recommendation for a pressure canner is an All-American, they are the Cadillac of canners and are precision-made to not require a gasket (which is a wear item) to seal. They're not cheap, but watch Craigslist or E-bay for deals on them. The earlier ones did not have a weighted gauge to automatically control the pressure, but the later ones do, which is a huge convenience to have. You can also add a weighted gauge to an early model, which is what I did.