Number Freak [Book Review]

This book is part of my 2010 Booklist. See the full-list on this blog, or visit my Amazon Store for links to purchase any of them.

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I picked this book up at Carroll & Carroll, a bookstore not far from where I grew up. I’m a fan of trivia books in general; collecting facts is just a hobby of mine.

This particular book is a tour de force through the numbers 1 to 200.  The range of numbers is somewhat arbitrary, and this becomes evident once you pass 128 or so.

The format of the book is not a standard chapter-based text. Niederman allocates a section to each number. The section heading is the number itself, along with its factors or a designation as a prime number. Below that are a series of short anecdotes about that number.

The first 70 digits are very fascinating. Niederman spends a couple pages at times discussing all the different interesting factoids about particular numbers. Many of them are strictly math-related: whether or not a number is prime, what kind of prime it is, what sorts of numerical relationship it has with itself and with other numbers.

But many of the other facts, early on, are more conventional trivia. Here is an arbitrary sampling:

Continue reading

Customer Service

I’ve written about this before.

Customer Service / Customer Relations is one of the absolute most important things a business can do. When I worked as a server, it was always drilled into our minds that a happy customer tells a handful, but an unhappy customer tells a dozen or more.

I’ve got three stories here, one about good customer service and one about bad, and one that has yet to be resolved.

All three of them happened today. Continue reading

Outsourcing & the Karmic Egg

So Melissa and I have finally decided to officially start our own publishing company.

She thought of the name “Karmic Egg” (the “egg” being short for “egghead”, I presume). We registered the domain a couple days ago, set up a Twitter account, Facebook fan page, and I transferred my development wiki to the new domain.

Melissa designed this really awesome logo, as well! I’m not totally settled on the typography, but the graphic itself is wicked awesome.

Our Publishing company will be an outlet for both of our collective hobbies involving publishable media (ie. not her crafties, but any books, writing, cards, games, etc. that we may produce). She is currently shopping around for a printer for her Melissa Lenormand divination deck / art project, and I’m in the playtesting phase of one game and nearly there with another (two others are still in early development).

The company is still in its infancy, but we’ve already had an absolutely surreal experience. Continue reading

Your Inner Fish [Book Review]

I discovered this book through a couple of the science blogs I read, as a follow up to news about the discovery of Tiktaalik, the first discovered quadruped fish (pictured on cover).

Neil Shubin, the author, was the lead scientist on the expedition far up north in the Arctic Circle where it was discovered.

This book is more than just a chronicle of his journey, or of the methodical process he and his colleagues use when determining where in the world to dig; This is, as the subtitle suggests, “a journey into the 3.5 billion year history of the human body,” exploring the minute details of our own bodies and comparing those oft-bizarre facets with our evolutionary predecessors.

It’s simultaneously informing and wondrous – when Shubin explains the development of the nerve pathways and bone structures in the head and neck, things, such as a shared tube among eating and breathing, start to make sense. When he shows other organisms that do not share those same inherited traits, but have developed other adaptations for their own environments INSTEAD, it’s even more amazing. Continue reading

Free Lunch [Book Review]

Free Lunch, by David Cay Johnston, is subtitled “How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill).” Yes, it’s one of THOSE books.

I’ve read and watched a fair share of media concerning how Corporate America ™ is bilking the Middle and Lower classes, so I honestly expected to not see anything I hadn’t seen already. But once I started this book, I couldn’t stop. Johnston’s ability to investigate, research, and synthesize this topic is astounding. The only thing that could have made this book better is a “happy ending,” or sense of resolution, at the end of each chapter; But that would just be sugar-coating the reality of things.

This book is not for the faint of heart, not for those that can’t tolerate the raise in their blood pressure from anger & aggravation, and certainly not for those that cannot deal with harsh realities. Continue reading