Trains.com

Railfan vs. Foamer

66428 views
137 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 22,895 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 7:59 PM

RME
Thanks, Balt, you're restoring my faith in America: crankin' up the nitrous in an enclosed space as we channel the spirit of Benjamin Silliman Jr.

'

Go big or go bang!

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    October 2016
  • 185 posts
Posted by Saturnalia on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 8:13 PM

At the end of the day, the word "foamer" is just like any other word. It is only an insult if used as one. It isn't the word which is an insult, the use is. 

If I call my railfan friend a foamer, that's a joke. If I were lighting up somebody, obviously attempting to make offense, well then of course you're making it an insult. 

And I have never else heard of the word "foamer" being applied to any other category of person other than railfan. 

 

  • Member since
    August 2009
  • 316 posts
Posted by BLS53 on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 8:59 PM

Saturnalia

 

 
BLS53

 

 
schlimm

 

Speaking professionally, I am certain many "foamers" are not on the spectrum.  Additionally, I  believe the condition is badly overdiagnosed.

 

I agree with it being overdiagnosed. My daughter's a Special Ed teacher, and her classes keep increasing in size. Asperger's Syndrome appears to be the "trendy" one.

 

 

Speaking for personal experience here, being one who has grown up with Asperger's, having a sibling with it, and knowing several others with it as well, some of whom are also into railroading. Allow me to make a few points. 

First the "overdiagnosis" debate is hard to quantify. That is, because science and society still aren't quite sure how to treat "mental disorders". The finicky thing is each case is vastly different from person to person. For many, the "disorder" is really just an abnormality, while for others, it is dibilitating. So the question of this is nearly impossible to resolve while this is unsettled. Many are "overdiagnosed", but at the same time the definitions are somewhat loose, and the symptoms of the issue are really over-treatment than the diagnosis (as in the special ed example above). At the end of the day, the steps taken post-diagnosis are the most important. Many end up taking medications for things such as improved focus. Like the "disorder" itself, sometimes it helps, other times people search for years and years, even when there isn't a huge issue. That's just bad parenting and medical care. None of this is to say that there aren't any bad diagnostic cases - but the majority are onto something, generally speaking.  

Second is the interesting point about Asperger's in particular. Remember here, I've been diagnosed with it for a decade, have grown up through school with it, and it is really the driving force behind my interest in this industry, and is already leading me into the industry as a clear career path. The thing about Asperger's is that it is a spectrum, and really appears, more than probably anything else in the "autsim spectrum" to be more of a different way of thinking than something mentally "wrong". A good way to describe it is being "wired differently" up top, as far as a metaphor for it goes. 

This sort of thing, as a medical diagnosis, no doubt annoys some because it again isn't like polio or cancer where the diagnosis is "yup, x y and z are the issue, here is how it is fixed or isn't". Truth be told, it is nebulous and the "solution" could be just about anything, on a case-by-case basis. 

So long story short, Asperger's generally impacts two things: social skills, and acedemic/mental capability. The spectrum starts with increased mental "skill" as far as things such as studying or picking up skills, and comes with some social skill holes, which make these people, especially in school/adolescent years, seem "odd" or "different". But, there are a LOT of very smart people in this part of the spectrum. In fact, many experts believe that many of the "big names" in the STEM fields in particular had Asperger's, with the hallmarks of social weakness yet brilliant minds (think Archimedes, Da Vinci, Edison etc). Essentially, these people generally spend much more time interested or focused on one particualar topic in life (enter trains here), and generally do very well in school or picking up new skills. Farther down the spectrum, this increased acedemic capability trails off as the social issues get worse. This is where it becomes debilitating. 

Third: So we know it is a real "thing". Again, huge amounts of debate as to whether it is a real "disorder" or is just "different", or where on the spectrum the boundary lies. In either way, many benefit from the use of medication of various forms. And for Asperger's particularly, railroads are often the "one big topic" people pickup on which guides much of what they do from a personal standpoint. It can help them to focus on one particular area of interest.  

Fourth, for example: Now maybe this is too much information about myself, but for the sake of the discussion, here we go: 

As I said, I have Asperger's. I'm on the part of the spectrum where I do really really well in school/acedemic settings - many would consider me part of the "gifted student" crowd - a label which is misplaced in many contexts. Great GPA, 99th percentile in most subjects, the ACT, etc. On the flipside I tend to struggle in social settings, most noteably those with unfamiliarity. Generally speaking, once familiar with the people, myself and others like me tend to do alright, but can be very uncertain in new places with new people. For me, the two balance each other out, by and large. 

So, looping all of this back to why we're here: trains. My "one big topic" is railroads. Since as early as I can remember, it is been a burning interest. Many people are able to turn this "disorder's" burning interest into a career, providied they have the skills and ambition match. That is why currently, I'm studying Civil Engineering, minoring in Railroad Transportation, and this summer I'm working an internship at a railroad engineering firm, out of my freshman year in college. For others, they might become auto engineers/mechanics/custom designers for example, following an interest in that industry. Yes, people generally gravitate towards things that move, that's just how it is, nobody seems to really know why. 

So when it all comes back to railfan versus foamer, you're going to find a significantly increased amount of "autism" in this hobby. No doubt, many people are "normal", who just happen to have an interest. But you're also going to find the type who probably has some social handicap but an interest beyond even their comprehension. Some of these people are going to fit right in, others will be driven to do bad things in their prusuit, or be "annoying" to many. This can be frustrating to those who are "normal" and don't understand how the thought process works for somebody with Asperger's in particular. 

As always in life, the best solution is just to be respectful at all times, even in the face of disrespect. We're all here because we enjoy the hobby. For some it just is, for others it is a product of different mental continuity. That shouldn't change how we treat other people. 

So now I'll alight my soap box. If you don't like what I said, if you think Autism and Asperger's is a total sham, then you're probably going to have ongoing issues with members of the hobby, who mean no harm, and just think differently than you! 

 

Never said it was a total sham. Quite frankly, I wouldn't recognize someone with Asperger's if I happened to meet them. So it would be kind of difficult to discriminate against them, if I have no idea who they are.

Like most of the general public, I have little knowledge of the subject. The only reason I'm somewhat aware of it, is through my daughter who's a Special Ed teacher. 

Nevertheless, there appears to be a long legacy of successful individuals, who are now known to have had the disorder. The majority lived in a time before Special Ed existed. So it makes me question as a taxpayer, the value of having such education for affected students today.

Honestly, I think there's a little bit of Asperger's in a bunch of us. I was shy, had manual dexterity issues, and liked trains as a kid. This was in the 1950's and 60's. I might of qualified. But, I outgrew the issues on my own, without any special treatment, as many of my generation did. I don't understand why kids today have to have a label of some sort, and have to be intellectually subsidized to some extent or another.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 23,379 posts
Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 10:11 PM

BLS53
I don't understand why kids today have to have a label of some sort, and have to be intellectually subsidized to some extent or another.

They all get a trophy, too....

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    February 2006
  • 344 posts
Posted by chicagorails on Friday, June 16, 2017 5:55 PM
if everybody wins wheres the competition at? scary
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Friday, June 16, 2017 6:54 PM

So much misinformation!  If this thread were about modern rail practices, someone (Murphy's Siding, for example) would suggest the railroaders who are experts be deferred to. Apparently this is different since everyone's an expert on mental health and education.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 23,379 posts
Posted by tree68 on Friday, June 16, 2017 9:04 PM

schlimm
Apparently this is different since everyone's an expert on mental health and education.

I am reminded of the story about some office workers who asked their boss why he was such a stickler regarding relative minor purchases, when he dealt with huge sums of money every day.

He replied, "To tell the truth, millions of dollars is beyond my comprehension.   But fifty cents - that I understand!"

Most folks here can understand the physics of railroading, at least in a broad sense.  Slack, run-in, HP, grades, etc, etc.

Heck, even a problem with a computer can be understood, at least in basic terms.

Trying to understand a mis-firing brain (for lack of a better description) can be a challenge - especially if each brain in question is mis-firing in a slightly different way.  So we form impressions and opinions based on our limited knowledge and experience.  

What appears to be mis-information may simply be how a given person understands the issue.  It's possible that the autistic person they have dealt with is different than the autistic person someone else has dealt with.  Neither is right or wrong.

Too - all of us have experience with education, even if we've never been in the seat of a locomotive.  The nature of that educational experience can be wide ranging - and again, it may be right, or it may be wrong.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Canterlot
  • 8,997 posts
Posted by zugmann on Friday, June 16, 2017 9:53 PM

tree68
They all get a trophy, too....

Just remember - it isn't the kids giving themselves the trophies.  Blame their parents for that.

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of

my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Friday, June 16, 2017 10:04 PM

tree68
Too - all of us have experience with education, even if we've never been in the seat of a locomotive.  The nature of that educational experience can be wide ranging - and again, it may be right, or it may be wrong.

I am saying there is expert knowledge on mental health and education, which goes far beyond one's experience of a classroom or a person who has autistic features.  The same is true of many fields.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 23,379 posts
Posted by tree68 on Friday, June 16, 2017 10:25 PM

schlimm
I am saying there is expert knowledge on mental health and education, which goes far beyond one's experience of a classroom or a person who has autistic features.  The same is true of many fields.

No question.  But while we have folks here who are well versed in railroading, I'm not so sure we have any similar expertise here regarding mental health.  So we're left to our own devices...

Just remember - it isn't the kids giving themselves the trophies.  Blame their parents for that.

Bingo!  My point exactly!

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, June 17, 2017 7:42 AM

tree68
No question.  But while we have folks here who are well versed in railroading, I'm not so sure we have any similar expertise here regarding mental health.  So we're left to our own devices..

You are left to your own devices only if you do not acknowledge that at least one member has 30+ years as a licensed clinical psychologist. Your choice.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 23,379 posts
Posted by tree68 on Saturday, June 17, 2017 1:35 PM

schlimm
You are left to your own devices only if you do not acknowledge that at least one member has 30+ years as a licensed clinical psychologist. Your choice.

Well, there you go, then.  I'm not sure any of us here knew that, except you and the other person (if it's not you).  

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, June 17, 2017 4:18 PM

tree68

 

 
schlimm
You are left to your own devices only if you do not acknowledge that at least one member has 30+ years as a licensed clinical psychologist. Your choice.

 

Well, there you go, then.  I'm not sure any of us here knew that, except you and the other person (if it's not you).  

 

I (at least) never stated it so directly, though I did say "--- as a professional" on several threads where it was relevant (consciousness, attention, memory).

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Rhododendron, OR
  • 1,506 posts
Posted by challenger3980 on Sunday, June 18, 2017 9:20 AM

schlimm

 

 
tree68

 

 
schlimm
You are left to your own devices only if you do not acknowledge that at least one member has 30+ years as a licensed clinical psychologist. Your choice.

 

Well, there you go, then.  I'm not sure any of us here knew that, except you and the other person (if it's not you).  

 

 

 

I (at least) never stated it so directly, though I did say "--- as a professional" on several threads where it was relevant (consciousness, attention, memory).

 

Well you can put Me at the top of Larry's list of those that didn't know we had a Mental Health Professional on the forum. If you HAD stated so directly, many of us would have given more credence to some of your comments.

I know that Larry(Tree68) volunteers at Adirondack(Spelling?) Scenic as an engineer, and is professionally a Firefighter/Paramedic, because he has stated so directly. Many here on the forums know that I am a Professional Driver, because when I have corrected inaccurate comments about my profession, I will add that I have been driving Tractor/Trailor for more than 28 years/2,500,000+ miles.

 If you don't "State it so Directly" Please don't expect all of us to know your occupation and credentials.

 I felt your "(consciouness, attention, memory)" line was uncalled for, especially towards someone as respected here on the forum as Larry, when he made such a justified reply.

Just MY thoughts,

Doug

Moving America's freight from point "A" to point "B" for over 28 years/2,500,000+ miles.

May your flanges always stay BETWEEN the rails

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Sunday, June 18, 2017 9:33 AM

challenger3980
I felt your "(consciouness, attention, memory)" line was uncalled for, especially towards someone as respected here on the forum as Larry, when he made such a justified reply.

You misunderstood.  I was referring to threads in which I commented as a professional, not an insult directed at Larry.  I never stated my background explicitly because it is not rail-related.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    July 2010
  • From: Louisiana
  • 2,242 posts
Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, June 18, 2017 1:23 PM

   Just for the record, I do remember schlimm mentioning in the last year or two that he was a psychologist.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 22,895 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 18, 2017 1:44 PM

A Sunday drive in Kansas, being passed by another competitor and my son.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Southeast Michigan
  • 2,983 posts
Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, June 18, 2017 5:07 PM

[quote user="BaltACD"]

A Sunday drive in Kansas, being passed by another competitor and my son.

 

[/qoute]

Chuck,

I've known for some time you are into racing.  Enjoy it to the fullest as long as you are able. Put the "wannabees" into their place and enjoy the rewards of doing so. Never concede defeat. Never give up.

There may not be money involved but trophies on the mantle make for good conversation.

Go for it my friend.

Norm


Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy