Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ZAMM (part 1) - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Robert Pirsig used this word to describe Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  After 121 rejections, an editor was willing to take a chance on it.  Pirsig's book was first published in 1974 and it quickly and unexpectedly became a best seller - and it still is.

This Swedish word kulturbarer translates as "culture bearer."  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a culture-bearing book in the 20th century much in the way Uncle Tom's Cabin was a culture bearer for the 19th century.

 In my blogger profile, I have listed Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  - next the Bible - as one of my favorite books of all time.   This book has given me the tools to see the universe through a different filter of the mind.  Pirsig relates some difficult philosophies in the form of a story - which makes these concepts easier for the reader to digest and ruminate upon.

Written in the 1970s, the book came out when our culture was in flux. The Vietnam War came to an ignoble end; the counter culture of the 1960s was giving way to disillusionment; the first of many energy crises hit the country; Watergate lead to the only resignation of one of our presidents.  The ugly Gotham of the 20th century left many - perhaps as expressed by the counter culture - feeling disconnected.  Our values as a society and the certainty of our vision of the universe had been shaken.

Like orthodox Christians believe God is a Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Ghost -  so we humans are also trinity - body, mind, spirit.   And the title of this book captures the essence of a trinity as well.

Zen - the spiritual aspect, the caring about what we are doing
Art - the romantic, the artistic, the craftsmanship
Motorcycle Maintenance - the technology, the logical, the hard science

All three are connected in the totality of our being - who we are, what we are doing, and how we are going about life.

Below is a book review uploaded by AtlasRider on YouTube - given while riding - most appropriately - a motorcycle.

But this short review does not do the work justice.

In following posts about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I'll call ZAMM for short), I plan to expand the discussion into the 21st century.

Question:  Have you read the book?  If so, any thoughts?

Photo from Barnes & Noble:   Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Friday, July 15, 2011

eReaders (Part 2) - Calibre

Before I settled on a dedicated eReader, I had read eBooks exclusively from my laptop.

It was fine when I was home at my computer, but my laptop wasn't always easy or convenient to take with me, even in different parts of the house. (Which is why I bought the Nook.)

The 21st century has brought us many technological wonders, especially in the media and its various presentations of written material.

As for computer displays, its various software, browsers, operating systems, etc. dictate how the material looks to the consumer and it isn't always consistent.  This "feature" has prompted many clever solutions.

Formats, formats, formats ....

PDFs (portable document formats) have been a solution for a long time.


* PDFs are totally consistent in displaying the format.
* Also, one of the positives it that many PDF readers are free - such as the Adobe Reader Xs - and the software can be easily downloaded.


*  PDFs can be less flexible in resizing.
*  The material is difficult or impossible to reorganize to the reader's desires.

The consistency, the universal availability of readers makes for the popular PDF format.
Other eReader formats

Speaking of free stuff ...

Major eBook retailers allow free download of their software to entice you to read and hopefully buy their wares.

Here are some examples big ones:

* Amazon - Kindle for PC

* Barnes & Noble - nook for PC

* Mobipocket - Mobipocker Reader

And this does not begin to cover the many ePub (electronic publication) formats that are out there - some eReaders for sale, some for free.

With all these different formats, a librarian would be handy to manage this new media.
So enter ....


A friend had recommended Calibre - a free software reading system - which allows me to manage, convert, and load files onto my eReader of choice (NOOK).  For its website and download information on Calibre - click here.
I've downloaded Calibre and used it many times for such tasks as ...
* Managing the PDFs and ePubs I've downloaded on my PC
* Converting various formats to ePub, PDF, or format of my choice, which it supports
* Using the Calibre eReader for easy viewing of various works
* Editing the metadata about the author(s), publisher(s), and related information of the works
* Side loading files to my Nook, while keeping the works on my PC
* Exercising the option to load eBooks I've purchased onto Calibre

The demo on the link explains it quite well: Demo

I am pleased at this solution, which allows me to read the books, articles, files of various formats and export them to Nook.

It's about choice.

And best of all ... it's free.

Question: Have you tried this? If so, what do you think?

Photo from: Calibre