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Thanks Chris.

I am also a BIG fan of Robert Pirsig.  In the 70s, I got stuck with a project that really had no instructions and a huge penalty for failure or abandonment.  I must have read his suggestions for finding gumption in Zen about 25 times before I got that project done.  Because of those instructions, I hold a 19-claim product-by-process patent.  I have not met Pirsig but I'm afraid I would babble incoherently if I did.

You also may be interested to know that both Pirsig and Veblen came from that Minnesota tool culture I admire so much.  Veblen was raised in an environment where MULTIPLE tool skills were necessary for mere survival.  Pirsig was the son of the Dean of the University of Minnesota Law School and actually felt like something of a failure because he was a "mere" technical writer for Honeywell (who wouldn't kill for a job like that these days) when he wrote Zen.  

I am not sure he understands the incredible popularity of Zen to this day.  My pet theory is that the people who LOVE to build and master tools feel woefully misunderstood and for them, Pirsig has become one of their philosophers.  I also believe that both Pirsig and Veblen got this understanding almost by accident--they were so immersed in the tool culture around here it became part of their intellectualization about other things.

My favorite example of how deep the culture is-- I personally know 4 men who have built airplanes they fly around in.  I met a guy who lives close by who is so skilled with a CNC mill, he got his employer to let him use the same tools to build an airplane for himself.  So the guy now has a "homebuilt" that conforms to the same specifications as an F-16--because he made tools for both.

But no, this door project needed almost no gumption.  Gumption is for the young.  We slightly more mature set have to get by on experience.  Not only have I hung more than 200 doors in life if you count furniture, but I have a builder brother who once showed me his 45-minute door hanging method that was so damn clever, I felt like I had been admitted to a secret fraternity.  This project took about 6 hours if you include getting rid of the rotten door and I used every one of my brother's methods I could.  Fortunately, slow and graceful still gets the job done.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 02:36:39 AM EST
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