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 Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...

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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:23 am

You've heard them all. Often empty, sometimes stupid, nonsense "rules" about how to pack your pipe, how many lights it should take, how wet (or how dry, depending on your vantage point) your tobacco should be, the shape of pipe versus the shape of your face, jars or cans, match or lighter, Aro or English, cheap or expensive, up or down, black or white...

...it's enough to make people's friggin heads spin, and not just the new folk trying this stuff out, but the older guys pulling out what little hair they might have left, trying to simplify and clarify amid a volley of pipe legend, myth and rhetoric.

I like writing overall thoughts and views, because I typically find myself "between worlds," quite frequently. I get a satellite, third-party and objective point of view naturally. At this stage in the game, I've gotten a few tickets from the pipe carival's skiball table, and can cash in a few prizes once in a while. I would like to say that no, I'm of no consequence in regard to time and effort put in as some guys, but I am dedicated, I observe, I learn quickly, and this is a great subject for me to ponder open-ended.

There's two types of "old stagers" that I've noticed, not just in the pipe world, but pretty much any area that has been around longer than three months that could allow for some expertise to be had. One, is the staunch traditionalist, even if those traditions are just his own, and there's simply only one way to do things, and doing otherwise is a waste of time. The other, is the simple, experienced, confident and successful-in-their-realm realist, who's been there, done that, and prefers to keep things less complicated. Fortunately, for BoB here, there's an abundance of the latter, which is better for most of us as new members overall.

The newbie, which needs no introduction--we've all been one, we're often still one someplace, somehow, which often encounters the exact same set of chin-scratching problems. Pesky, irritating problems--lighting, packing, tobacco choice, pipe choice, etc. Natually, if they have any sense (or nerve endings in the tongue, eyes to see, or taste buds, in the case of pipe collecting/smoking) they're going to find a place (like BoB) to get questions answered.

Enter these contentious methods in question. The new piper has nothing more than these awkward, perpetuated and complicated methods in which to use, or even, not to use. If the newbie is also the decent, patient type (not a know-it-all or a jaded cur), they have a dilemma now on top of their original, pesky problem.

The real issue comes up, among sorting out the information, is back to the two types of folks giving advice, the experienced ones: "Do it this way," or "Don't bother with any of that, just keep it simple." I know I have been confused many times, because I have a specific question, and sometimes receive a specific answer, and other times receive almost blunt answers such as, "Don't worry about it, just do it."

I'm not bringing this up as criticism, because every pipe smoker in particular, is entitled to the smoke he deserves, either through practice, instruction or trial-and-error. The goal of all of us, I'd like to think, is a pleasant smoke, and the repeating of this process. I suppose my only real thought is for the newbies, to whom I'm probably closer to than anything, and wondering how they might deal with methods that might only work for the adviser, and to what degree of simplicity is necessary beyond at least a little simple suggestion--which is at times, omitted.

If it were me, as I even try to do in vain with what little information I have by comparison to others, I give out , with no warranty implied, that which works for me. No "rules," and no zen-like enigma. Even as I learn, it's my own experience and mistakes, as are my successes and revelations. Sometimes they're obvious, sometimes they sound like tired mantra. I often take tidbits that may work here and there, combine them, decompile them, study them, and try and refine my answer when no other is clear.

I'd like to think others are like me, but I don't really know. I know very few pipe smokers outside this place. As a future "expert" (I say that very loosely) I even wonder how my attitude might change in the future once I've figured a lot of this out.

What are your thoughts? Newbies? Intermediates? Old guard?

(Side note: Many times I get considered "stressed" or "upset" because of the length of posts (and not just here, but the many places of the Internet in which I haunt) and this is very much not the case--really, only observations and notes of my own. If this were a blog, a disclaimer wouldn't even be considered, but forums are an open place for discussion--I'm just a wordy em-effer...which is why I have blogs, just not one for this subject...) Cool
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shootist51



Location : Indianapolis, Indiana
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:20 am

Kyle,
I often think that it is a wonder that any new pipesters find the forbearance to stick out the beginning stages of pipe smoking.
It's difficult to sort through all of the variations of process that folks have developed over the years and couple that with a scorched tongue, well, you have the makings of disaster.

I have found over the years that though trial and error seems to be the most common method of learning in our hobby, the input of a few knowledgeable individuals goes far in smothing the lessons. This is not to say that anyone's suggestion is necessarily better or worse than anothers.

The things that I have learned, that most enhanced the smoking experience for me are:

Pack the bowl loose...you can always firm it up with a tamper as you smoke.
Allow the tobacco to dry a bit before smoking.
Sip the smoke, like a fine single malt.
Don't sweat relights.

I have found that these are the things that consistently provide an enjoyable smoke, for me, whether the blend be Burly, Virginia, English or a Lat. Even aromatics can be enjoyed with these guidelines, but the toppings they contain can offer additional hurddles to be overcome. By following these simple guidelines, I believe, any pipester can enhance his/her enjoyment of our hobby, everything else is pretty much optional and if it works for you, great, if not, move on.
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Tim_Haggerty

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Age : 58
Location : Pittsburgh
Registration date : 2010-06-11

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:11 am

I'm with Shootist on this one, I think.

The trick is to keep on smoking, it all comes out in the wash, eventually, Everyone finds their blends, techniques, bowls and preferences. But the advice and guidance helps, and we're all looking to enjoy it as much as we can, LOL. It's not a hobby for the impatient, eh?
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:27 am

I'm with both of you guys, on a personal note. It's so, so damn overwhelming at times with all of the choices of tobacco and pipes alone, not to mention all the fussy nuances that could easily be taken as doctrine--like any acquired taste.

Sometimes, again speaking for myself, think I'm not patient enough for this hobby, but I'm so damn stubborn it overshadows any instantaneous gratification I think I should/can get. The good part of pipes is, it makes for a very interesting, time-slowing experience even if you get a few things right, by accident or suggestion, maybe an idea, that the ball is certainly in the new smoker's court--provided they are willing.

I think that's why I like this hobby. It begs for thoughtful people. They're an eclectic bunch. It's social but antisocial. It's a weird balance of simplicity and complexity, which seems to go either direction at any given moment, especially when new. Every day can yield a new experience. Like tonight. A blend a guy at the Tinder Box let me go home with to experiment with ended up tasting like fresh buttered popcorn at the end of the bowl. Never had that happen before! Smile

I like those sentiments: Keep on smoking, have patience, be flexible.
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dougc905

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Age : 55
Location : Brampton, Ontario
Registration date : 2009-01-11

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:54 am

Kyle,

Your post had way too many words in it. So I stopped reading.

I'll agree with you just because you put so much effort into it.

Doug

sunny
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flytyer

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Age : 52
Location : N E Pa.
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:49 am

Good post Kyle. I approached pipe smoking by reading and learning techniques , then doing what worked for me and for what I liked doing. The point of view I have with it is there is no set way of doing things , learn techniques and do whats right for you. I find relaxed approaches work well for relaxing hobbies.
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danindayton

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Location : Dayton, Oh
Registration date : 2012-01-02

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:16 am

Kyle,

I feel your pain. Most of the things I have learned in almost fifty years of pipe smoking I have learned thru trial and error. Most of the things I have taught in almost fifty years of pipe smoking have been face to face.

I think of guidelines to pipe smoking instead of "rules". Does that put me in the second class of pipe smokers? Maybe the free thinker on the fringes of the flock? I don't care. The only rule that I observe in pipe smoking is "keep it simple". Put some tobacco in the bowl, tamp it down and fire it up. If, you fret about any of the previous then you lose the reason for smoking a pipe and become the first class of pipe smoker. 'Taint my style. But, that is one of the marvelous things about pipe smoking. We CAN each have his/her own style. You can be a class one or two pipe smoker or, you can be with me, out on the fringes of the flock, enjoying the hell out of the whole experince.

danindayton
ilurkalot
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Harlock999

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Location : Los Angeles
Registration date : 2010-10-22

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:39 am

Is there a Cliff's Notes version of this available?
I had to speed read through it, so I'm afraid I may have missed the gist, if there was one.
If we are debating the basic notion that the "Internet" is a gateway to an over abundance of "Information", then the point is moot.
If we are instead debating the foolishness of a 3rd Level Ranger/Monk trying to take on Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon, then, it's totally on!

As an aside, I'll say that two years as a pipe smoker means that I'm still a newbie, albeit one that has conquered a couple things, like gurgling pipes and the fear of re-lighting. Learned a couple things too, like the fact that I love Latakia, and I don't really stress that there are many Lat blends I'll never try. Don't need to. As I have not evolved into that rarefied species known as a straight VA/Per whatever smoker, I don't stress that either.
I like English blends and Italian briars, and contentment is mine. Usually.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:05 pm

Sorry there weren't enough pictures to capture the minds of a few of you. Laughing To recap, it wasn't simple verbal vomiting or gassing on, I've been honestly noticing the question-and-answer scenario, and being where I am with this, wonder what others may think. I've tried techniques that suck. I've tried some that work. I've read books. Countless blogs. The short, quippish dismissals and the professorial advice from down the noses of-the-oh-so-correct-and-wise.

Wincing a little at Harlock's and others arm's length willingness to actually read my somewhat meaningful drivel has made me realize what part of the problem is: yes, you can brush off and criticize the ramblings of a madman, but there really is too much information out there. The chatter is unbelievable. When I approach a hobby, any hobby, I amass information, and I go headlong. Bring it on. When the information is also massive, that's a lot of goddamn work. Obviously everyone not being me, I can only imagine someone casually curious getting into something like pipe smoking, as it isn't an electrical engineering project nor a math club. Hence why it's so easy to read someone saying, "Just stuff the pipe and smoke it," yet also pondering why they can't keep the damn thing lit, why it sounds like a straw sucking at the bottom of an empty glass, why it tastes awful, etc., and possibly simply accepting some of these silly legend-myths of pipe smoking, because--you gotta start someplace.

Sometimes, like John Patton's repetition of the advice his father gave him, are less nebulous and give a better start, because there can be no base rules, and these were words that helped me in more than a few instances--a checklist of some kind. Free of bullshit, and yet still less simple than "Shut up and smoke." Laughing

40 years ago, there was hardly a book on the subject, now look at us. Laughing No wonder some of the experienced gents have their own way, being obviously taught or tipped in person by someone likely close to them, or figuring it out on their own. Now look what a new smoker has to endure! Cool

Yeah yeah, I know, "...write a book." Eff you. The book can't entice you to actually buy it, open it or read it. Wink

(My apologies if I wasted anyone's time.)
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puros_bran
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Location : Brandenburg, Ky
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:56 pm

Tiamat was overrated. Much like pipe rules.
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dougc905

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Age : 55
Location : Brampton, Ontario
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:31 pm

I like pictures. Pictures good.
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dougc905

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Location : Brampton, Ontario
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:40 pm

By the way, I read your last missive in its entirety. I get it but am not sure whats required in response. My thinking is that pipe smoking, as any other skilled hobby ( and it is a skilled hobby), requires patience and practice. There is no magic bullet. Some may pick it up quicker than others but everyone benefits from practice and being open to alternative methods.

That's why some people call themselves students of whatever instead of whatever hobbyists.
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Rob_In_MO

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Age : 45
Location : Park Hills, MO
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:40 pm

Harlock999 wrote:
If we are instead debating the foolishness of a 3rd Level Ranger/Monk trying to take on Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon, then, it's totally on!

Oh, trying to be fancy hey? Multi-Classing at only level 3? Monks pretty well suck till at least level 7 or 8. At higher levels though, the monks are probably the best fighters of all. Give them a set of 'Bracers of Defense' when they're starting out, it goes a long way until the armor class comes down...
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J Soshae

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Age : 45
Location : Birmingham, AL
Registration date : 2011-08-19

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:09 pm

When I first started, I enjoyed reading all the "rules" for smoking. It is more about reading the input of so many fellow pipers in a hobby that is somewhat obscure.
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KevinM



Age : 76
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:29 pm

I agree with Doug's comment. I'd compare pipe smoking to interests like golf, fly fishing and driving. And maybe sex. It's not hard to do, but getting started -- the, ah, entry point, if you will -- presents some issues to the beginner. That is, to get started you need some basic skills that you can't get anyway but doing them. I think you have to take advice as one piper's experience FWIW. And it helps to offer advice with a blend of generosity and humility. I think there's a pertinent Chinese saying -- something about a reason we have two ears but only one mouth:-)
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:03 am

Doug--it was a "trick missive": ergo, no required response. Sorry to trouble you. Smile

I like the sex comparison. Totally driven, no f*cking clue. So to speak. Everyone's thinks themselves an expert, gotta find your own rhythm, and yet the entire purpose is only evident nine months later, if nature truly takes its course. Laughing

Not that a good pipe is like having a kid--which I'm unquestionably thankful for. Cool
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Harlock999

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Location : Los Angeles
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:10 am

Rob_In_MO wrote:
Harlock999 wrote:
If we are instead debating the foolishness of a 3rd Level Ranger/Monk trying to take on Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon, then, it's totally on!

Tiamat was overrated. Much like pipe rules.

Oh, trying to be fancy hey? Multi-Classing at only level 3? Monks pretty well suck till at least level 7 or 8. At higher levels though, the monks are probably the best fighters of all. Give them a set of 'Bracers of Defense' when they're starting out, it goes a long way until the armor class comes down...

Ok, I knew there was a reason why I liked you guys!!
cheers cheers cheers
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:15 am

I was laughing at the sheer nerdiness of it all too. Near and dear to my heart. Very Happy
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mark
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:28 am



,,,,stuff and puff, you'll figure out what works for you as you go.

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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:25 am

I have been smoking a pipe since age 16, with breaks for sleeping; here is all I know for sure:

1. Some pipes are nasty and will never smoke right, no matter what you do. Throw them away. Or put 'em on eBay.
2. Don't pack tobacco too tight. I still do this and I kick my ass every time. Some people cannot learn.
3. You only need one or two pipes unless you're a heavy smoker, then you need three. (ROFLMAO, in grim irony--not easy to do)

That's all I know for sure. There's a lot of other stuff, but it's all quicksand and minefields. The most important accessory a newbie can have is a large grain of salt. Seriously, the only "help" I had when I first started was a little booklet that described the three-tier packing method. For how much good that did me, see above.

Nice, thoughtful commentary, Kyle, as most of yours is. Sleep (Kidding. We all know you're a genius.)


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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:21 pm

mark wrote:
,,,,stuff and puff, you'll figure out what works for you as you go.

Thanks, mark. It has a certain ring to it now.

Richard Burley wrote:
We all know you're a genius.

Only after I have a few drinks. Suddenly, I'm better looking in my own mind, too. Laughing

...

I tried pretty hard to take a new pipester's immersion into the wide, opinionated and info-saturated world now available to him and sort of be on his side, especially with the crotchety stance some guys that were taught by Moses how to smoke a pipe that can happen, but another thing occurred to me. My generation, let alone place in the "pipe world," is caught between the current one and one long past, and has partly been raised by the ideal that you get served your information on a platter rather than learning how things are done or being actually taught. Experience seems to be an uncouth practice or at best, for many who are younger, something that can be looked up on the Internet. In a pre-Internet world, maybe it was the realm of the B&M store and folks there, a neighbor or a family member that helps out, demonstrates and guides.

I guess modern day pipe culture is doing the best it can.
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George Kaplan

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Location : Kalamazoo, MI
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:37 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
My generation, let alone place in the "pipe world," is caught between the current one and one long past, and has partly been raised by the ideal that you get served your information on a platter rather than learning how things are done or being actually taught. Experience seems to be an uncouth practice or at best, for many who are younger, something that can be looked up on the Internet.....I guess modern day pipe culture is doing the best it can.

That's a good point, Kyle. In my short time as part of this forum, I've been rather amazed by the number of "new guys" who seem to show up every day, making the internet their first stop on the journey of discovery. I'm a little envious of how easy they have it; not needing to pry the secrets from scary old men, often learning bad habits to be broken by trial and error. At the same time, I imagine the sheer flood of (often contradictory) information can be overwhelming, even intimidating to the novice. Once, research was the skill of FINDING information. These days, the skill one needs is FILTERING the information so readily available.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:15 pm

That's sort of been the whole point all along, but I guess I didn't realize it had two sides until now. It's easy to get complacent in the face of the exact thing (which you're staring at along with me as I type this) that also may have a hand in the process of learning something.

Well, now the only thing that's as scary as the old men giving out their secrets is their typing skills. They might seem frightening, but if you only saw them hunched over their keyboards in a dark room, monitor glaring off their scalp, squinting at the keyboard, index fingers extended downward searching for and clacking individual letters, pipe jutting from a corner or their mouth muttering "Just smoke the f**king pipe you impatient little sh*t..." Laughing ...poor guys. Cool May we all learn from you, and may we all become you.
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mark
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts regarding newbs, old stagers, and pesky rules...   Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:46 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
,,, if you only saw them hunched over their keyboards in a dark room, monitor glaring off their scalp, squinting at the keyboard, index fingers extended downward searching for and clacking individual letters, pipe jutting from a corner or their mouth muttering "Just smoke the f**king pipe you impatient little sh*t..."

just to be clear, I have a light on in the room,,, cyclops
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monbla256

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PostSubject: Kyle Weiss wrote:   Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:25 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:


Well, now the only thing that's as scary as the old men giving out their secrets is their typing skills. They might seem frightening, but if you only saw them hunched over their keyboards in a dark room, monitor glaring off their scalp, squinting at the keyboard, index fingers extended downward searching for and clacking individual letters, pipe jutting from a corner or their mouth muttering "Just smoke the f**king pipe you impatient little sh*t..." Laughing ...poor guys. Cool May we all learn from you, and may we all become you.

I now use 3 fingers on each hand and have a lamp on Razz
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