Pros: Amazing array of facts and figures; pocket-sized if you've got roomy pockets
Cons: Tiny but thick volume easily lost in nightstand; a little outdated in a few sections
I couldn't resist scouring my house for the perfect product to review for today, Leap Day 2008. After rummaging through my nightstand I came up with this gem-- Pocket Ref by Thomas J. Glover. I distinctly remember the day I bought Pocket Ref at a Restoration Hardware store. It was definitely an impulse buy... I schemed that if I was ever stranded on a desert island it would come in handy for my survival!
Pocket Ref is really a marvel of anti-technology. It's about the dimensions of an index card (5 1/2 inches by 3 inches) and 1 inch in depth. The pages are the kind of thin, very smooth paper that riffles easily when you thumb through it. The black typeface is very small (about 6 points) but is sharp high quality print. The side of the book has black index marks where various chapters begin and end, but that's not very helpful since you don't know which chapters they are marking!
The book is full of tables of every sort and subject, which I will describe in detail. Illustrations are sharp and graphic, and make the book fun to flip through and contribute important detail to certain topics. One thing I don't like about the book is it doesn't stay propped open on a desk by itself.
What's Inside Pocket Ref?
If you're Nancy Drew, Albert Einstein, or any other scientist, contractor, architect, geographer, medical professional, mathematician, meteorologist, manufacturer, sailor, geologist, babysitter or even telephone dialer, this book has important information you may be forgetting or would find useful on a desert island (without an internet connection).
As someone who successfully completed courses in Mayan Hieroglyphics, Mineralogy and Sonoran Agriculture in college, I like to think I'm somewhat of a Renaissance lady. So, in my idealistic moments, I imagine communicating with Semaphores and actually using Moh's Scale of Hardness for practical purposes. If your mind wanders like mine, you'll enjoy reading Pocket Ref just for the sheer breadth of facts and clever trivia which has so far escaped your sights.
Topics (and a sample table, application or description) ~ Not a comprehensive listing, but a representative one
Air & Gasses ~ You could use the Elevation vs. Air and Water table to figure out the boiling point (temperature) of water during your camping trip on Mt. Everest.
Automotive ~ Describes in detail how to wire a trailer to your car.
Carpentry and Construction ~ Use the Wood Characteristics table to determine the cost, density, hardness, split resistance and grain when choosing Pecan over Maple. Or, communicate with a Crane and Hoist operator with hand signals.
Chemistry and Physics ~ An alphabetical listing of all the Elements and their state, atomic number, density, melting and boiling points
Computers ~ Use the list of ASCII codes to add fancy symbols to your Epinions reviews!
Constants- Physical, Chemical and Math ~ Acceleration due to Gravity ~ Zeeman Displacement
Electrical - Wire, Motors and Frames ~ Rewire your ceiling fan with Standard Wiring Color Codes
Electronics ~ The Batteries Size and Capacity chart compares Duracell, Energizer, Panasonic and Rayovac for voltage and capacity.
First Aid ~ Save a dinner companion from choking or heart attack with the illustrated guide to CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
General Information ~ Hallmark type listings of anniversaries, holidays, zodiac signs etc. Also, proofreaders marks, Morse code, Semaphore alphabet, Military rank and insignias, chili pepper hotness scale, time zones, area codes both domestic and international etc.
General Science ~ A fascinating analysis is included: Human Body Composition. Did you know that our bodies contain 47 elements including Beryllium and Molybdenum?
Geology ~ My personal favorite, the Mineral Tables with chemical formulas for all minerals, and a Gold, Silver and Diamond classification table for all lovers of crown jewels.
Glue, Solvents, Paints and Finishes ` An in-depth analysis of Glues and Adhesives Types and Applications is great for handyman/handywoman types who repair broken stuff around the house
Hardware ~ Ever wonder what those little hexagons on steel bolts and screws are telling you? Fifteen bolt top styles are drawn and labeled for the curious.
Math ~ Plane Figure formulas help you figure out the areas for parallelograms, trapezoids and trapeziums.
Mine, Mill and Aggregate ~ Need to calculate the volume of your stockpile?
Money ~ Currency exchange rates as of 2002, a little dated but a nice listing of currency names from countries round the world.
Plumbing and Pipe ~ Types of plastic pipes and their prescribed uses
Rope, Cable, Chain and Knots ~ Any sailor, boy scout, girl scout or troop leader will knot be disappointed with the illustrated instructions on tying rope knots like the Butterfly Knot or Flemish 2 Ropes Knot.
Steel and Metals ~ Not the most exciting chapter, and contains type which requires a magnifying glass to read!
Surveying and Mapping ~ A really cool map of Magnetic Declination is included for the year 2002 for North America. Although I am a geographer by education and trade, I'm not sure exactly how to use this information.
Tools ~ Types of Fire Extinguishers for your shop classified by types and sizes of the fires they will put out.
Water ~ Levels of drinking water pollutants and their maximum contaminant level in parts per million.
Weather and Weather Safety ~ One of the most fascinating chapters, includes black and white photos of cloud types such as Cirrus and Stratocumulus.
Weights and Properties of Materials ~ An alphabetical listing of the physical properties of many common substances such as almonds, brick, coal, concrete, goose down, manure, mud, and hundreds more!
Welding ~ Very technical chapter but includes some interesting diagrams of welding joint types.
Conversion Tables ~ Any unit to any other unit. Includes some obscure, biblical measurement units like cubits!
12 Year Perpetual Calendar ~ Did you know: "Pope Gregory XIII, creator of today's calendar, rescheduled leap year to fall every 4th year except century years not divisible by 400." That means that 2100 will not be a leap year...
It would be easy to be skeptical or sarcastic when recommending this book, because it is so full of technical information that most of us don't understand or could never use. However, I will do no such thing! I believe that the author achieves his objective, which was to compile a wealth of facts, figures, equations, constants and other information pertaining to specific fields and make it readily accessible for field personnel and other technicians.
I admit, I will never use or comprehend the majority of information in this book, nor will I probably remember to take it where I could actually use it, on an international trip for example. But I appreciate the book for what it is: a catalogue of facts, figures and formulas that the human race has collected, and which various trades find uniquely suited to their pursuits. As one who has read the dictionary and encyclopedia as a child when I was bored, I find this little tome fun to read in the same way. It's a window to other worlds which I may never enter, but now I know the secret passwords should I ever want to visit.
Now that you know the scope and sample contents of Pocket Ref, you can decide for yourself if you need it. Although I have had this book for about five years, I have never pored over it so thoroughly until I wrote this review. So thanks, Epinions, for giving me the patience to re-examine this little treasure!
Thanks for Reading and Happy Leap Day!