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Listening to Books (Again)

Over the past several months, my work is required me to be more critical of what I’m doing with my hands and eyes, so I no longer have the luxury, of being able to view TED conference videos.

If you are not familiar with TED, and you enjoy learning and hearing about new ideas, I strongly recommend that you visit the site and listen to some of the most interesting talks that are available free on the web. Well worth your time.

I had been using my laptop as my interface to the TED lectures, but being tethered to such a device was no longer an option, and my wife was nice enough to give me her old Creative Zen MP3 player.

To me this was a major upgrade, considering last book that I had listened to, was on a cassette tape player, two cars and 10+ years ago.

Would you believe, I still have the two cassette tape collection (4 sides), The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra with a copyright date of 1990.

I’m not even sure if I have a device to play them back anymore.

In mid December 2011, I signed up with for their three-month introductory offer, and yes I was influenced by their various TV commercials and banner ads.

It was a relatively standard new account setup, and I was off and searching.

The Hunt Begins

I was very interested in finding several authors, that I had just been reintroduced to, by  watching on the Discovery Channel, “The Profits of Science Fiction“, namely H.G. Wells and Arthur C Clarke.

I was also trying to find several of the Speakers that I heard on TED, most notably Richard Dawkins and Douglas Adams.

So the downloading begun, at least on

Not bad collection start with, but I knew I was giving go broke if I was going to stick with only.

Project Gutenberg

From previous web meanderings, I was aware of the Project Gutenberg and decided to do some hunting.

Also at this point, having already listened to several of the books mentioned above, I finally broke down and bought an Apple iPod touch.

The addiction is growing…

With the aid of the Audiobooks app, I downloaded several classics:

  • Dracula – Bram Stoker (Done)
  • Dubliners – James Joyce
  • Flatland: A Romance of many dimensions – Edwin Abbott Abbott (Done)
  • Relativity: The Special and General Theory – Albert Einstein
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu (Done)
  • The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving (Done)
  • The Time Machine – H.G. Wells (Done)

and several others that I have only as a reference at this point, such Aesop, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Robert Frost.

A very interesting collection of works so far, and as indicated, I have already put in many hours of listening.

In the Gutenberg collection, I first read Dracula in the 7th or 8th grade while at Rectory school, and the Dubliners while at St. Andrew’s, and Einstein and Abbott in college.

Needless to say it’s been a few years for some of these books, and I am debating on whether to do reviews on my blog.


Difficulties always arise when moving from one medium to another, and moving from a hardbound paper book to an object that can hold volumes of books in your shirt pocket, is no different.

Highlighting and Notes

One of my biggest peeves right now, is the inability to efficiently bookmark sections of the audio book, in a highlighter fashion, or be able to write notes in the margin, but I have a feeling as audio book applications mature, there will be these enhancements, and possible improvements, such as a singular platform Reader that can catalog your highlights and notes!


One of the biggest things that can kill an audio book, is the Reader/Narrator.

I cannot imagine the effort involved all reading some of these chapters or books at length while being recorded.

I applaud those that can do it, but please do not add over dramatization while reading!

A good example of this, is to find and download the Jabberwocky by Lewis Clark, and listen to the various readers as they repeat this poem again and again and again.

When listening to paid audio books, it is not uncommon to have a professional reader, or celebrity narrating. In some cases, you can also find the authors narrating their own work, which can be very delightful.


If you have the time, it is great to be able to listen to a book, while doing something else.

In my case, when I am home, I am doing Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop work, as well as listening in my car during my commute.

It has also been wonderful listening to books I read when I was a boy, and see how much I remember and how much I have forgotten or missed.

Boy I wish I had these technologies back when I was in grade school, things would’ve been a lot different.

Oh well…

– Andrew
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Major Overnight 8.9 Earthquake Hits Japan

Bronze Statue of Amita Buddha Daibutsu or Great Buddha
Bronze Statue of Amita Buddha Daibutsu or Great Buddha


3/15/2011 – A new group was started on Facebook that I think needs to be highlighted:

I will open my home to a family from Japan

It is a great idea, and if you think you can NOT afford it, remember, they have NOTHING!

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If you are just waking up, there was a major 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan overnight.

This is one of the largest ever recorded, and from early reports, has caused all sorts of damage, including issues at one of the northern nuclear plants. Many after quakes have also been reported, and many of those are 6.0 and above.

On Facebook, I have gotten notice that friends/neighbors that are in China are safe and sound, I can only wait, hope and wonder for those I know on the main island.

Some of my friends and followers on the west coast, have posted that they watched video of some of the Tsunami reaching Hawaii, live.

I had the chance to go to Japan in 1994, just before the big Kobe earthquake several months late, and while I was there, a small 4.3 shook the house that I was in.

If you have never been in an earthquake, it is a very strange sensation, namely because one has no control of what is going on around you.

Needless to say, in the coming hours, days, weeks and months, there will be much sorrow, pain and suffering.

Also, be aware, that in times like this, some people will try and take advantage of donations. Be very aware of which organizations which you pledge your money.

I do not subscribe to any particular religion, but please take a moment today, to just send your thoughts to those that may have lost a great deal.

– Andrew
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Related Sites and Info

Japanese Quake Person Finder
Earthquakes near Japan –

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