May 30, 2008

Book Review - Armed Forces Guide to Personal Financial Planning

Armed Forces Guide to Personal Financial Planning: Strategies for Securing Your Finances at Home While Serving Our Nation Abroad
6th ed.
Margaret H. Belknap and F. Michael Marty
HG 179 .P55 2007

This guide provides straightforward explanations of often complex finance and benefits options and offers strategy for military personal to maintain fiscal health and reach their financial goals. The book is divided into five main sections. The first part, financial basic training, discusses banking, credit, and paying taxes. The second provides guidance about purchasing houses and vehicles, paying for college, medical expenses, and decisions that need to be made during deployments. The third part discusses investment strategies and saving for retirement. The fourth part advises how to manage financial risks, particularly with insurance policies. Finally, the fifth section provides guidance about transitioning from military into civilian life. This detailed and practical guide will be of use to all service members.

Book Review - Speak to Win

Speak to Win: How to Present with Power in Any Situation
Brian Tracy
PN 4129.15 .T73 2008

Many people assume that effective public speakers are more confident and intelligent than they are. At the same time, people also assume that public speaking skills come naturally. Tracy disputes both of these assumptions. He asserts that effective public speaking can be learned by anyone and that they should use their ability to communicate verbally as a tool to advance their career. In this book, Tracy provides tactics, tips and techniques on how people can overcome their fear of speaking in front of others and to develop an effective verbal communication style. He discusses basics like preparing for presentations, controlling the arrangement and climate of the presentation space, speaking persuasively, and opening and closing the talk strongly. However, he goes beyond these broad brush strokes offering specific advice on how to phrase the points in your speech to make them most memorable to the audience, how to integrate anecdotes into a structured talk, and the power of pausing mid-thought. This book offers concrete, practical recommendations to improving your ability to speak in public and will be useful for meeting leaders and presenters to audiences of all sizes.

May 28, 2008

Book Review - Camping with the Corps of Engineers

Camping with the Corps of Engineers
7th ed
S. L. Hinkle
G 191.35 .H68 2007

This handbook provides a complete guide to campgrounds owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Organized alphabetically by state, the guidebook locates individual campground locations geographically, indicating their proximity to major cities and interstate highways. Fuller entries on each property provide directions, detail the amenities and recreational facilities available, the camping costs, and dates that the property can be used. This easy to use guide is a must for outdoor recreation lovers.

Book Review - Epic Change

EPIC Change: How to Lead Change in the Global Age
Timothy R. Clark
HD 58.8 .C524 2008

Clark asserts that although change is inevitable, it can be productively managed and organizations effectively steered to weather these changes. He overviews several methods to successfully manage change, focusing on the EPIC model. In this model, the change process is defined by four stages: Evaluation, Preparation, Implementation, and Consolidation. Book sections follow these stages in order to further develop these ideas and guide managers through the process. Throughout the book, Clark argues that the traditional project management approach used by many leaders are leaves them unprepared for change. He also stresses that the accelerating speed at which change occurs often manifests itself as a leadership or organizational failure. Having experienced this "failure" firsthand, Clark provides a guidebook to prepare other managers to successfully lead through change.

May 27, 2008

Book Review - Building Green

Building Green: A Complete How-to Guide to Alternative Building Methods
Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan
TH 4860 .S6397 2005

Snell and Callahan believe that building green is inherently about creating a home that is uniquely designed to interact with the earth and environment in which it is placed. With that goal in mind, they discuss numerous renewable materials and energy saving building techniques that can be incorporated into a home's design. Considerable attention is made to designing with minimal destructive impact to the site of the home, both during construction and through the lifespan of the home. At the same time, the authors recognize that the primary considerations must be placed on providing a sturdy structure, maintaining a consistent temperature for those living inside, providing sufficient separation from the elements, yet retaining a connection with the earth and environment surrounding the home. Throughout this book, the authors design and build a small home, using it as an example of the techniques that they discuss and design and building considerations that they hope to impart on their readers. This engaging, lavishly illustrated book may be of interest to general readers, but also provides sufficient detail to be useful to those in the design and construction industries.

May 23, 2008

Book Review - Sustainable Development for Engineers

Sustainable Development for Engineers: A Handbook and Resource Guide
Edited by Karel Mulder
TA 170 .S87 2006

This book is written based on the premise that engineers will become part of the solution rather than part of the problem if they have a full understanding of the environmental threats that face the world today. Focused around the ideas of sustainable development and design along with technological improvement, this book attempts to make engineers aware of the challenges that face their profession and to provide them with ideas, tools, and techniques that they can use professionally to minimize the negative impacts that their professional work has on the environment and on society. This is not a textbook. Rather, it is a series of thought-provoking essays based on questions, designed to raise the awareness of engineers to the impacts of their work and prompt them to think about their role as facilitators of sustainable lifestyles and work products. The concepts of technology, development, and innovation play important parts in this discussion of sustainability, and this book teaches engineers how to consider the own work within this framework and to measure the impact that it has on the world. This book is a must for all engineers, as well as for students and professionals in related professions. Because of its infrequent use of jargon, it would probably be of interest to general readers who want to expand their thinking as well.

Book Review - Computational River Dynamics

Computational River Dynamics
Weiming Wu
TC 175.2 .W82 2008

This textbook teaches how to model water flow and sediment transport in rivers. It includes thorough discussions of the physical principles involved as well as the mathematical methods for calculating them. Several different modeling methods and mathematical algorithms are discussed, enabling readers to analyze river behavior in up to three dimensions. The examples chosen throughout the text illustrate commonly-observed river behaviors such as erosion, channel widening, and the disbursement of river contaminants. This text is designed to instruct graduate-level students in civil engineering and environmental sciences, but will also serve as a useful reference book to professionals as well.

May 21, 2008

Book Review - The Sustsainability Revolution

The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift
Andres R. Edwards
HC 79 .E5 E327 2005

Sustainability has become a common buzzword. With such regular use, however, much of the complexity of its meaning has been lost, being replaced, instead, with a vague notion that sustainable equals green. Edwards examines this concept, showing its applicability in numerous social sectors. He begins by discussing the evolution of the notion of sustainability from the environmental movement. He moves on to illustrate how sustainability involves community, commerce and economics, natural resources, planning and design, and the ecosystem. He finishes with hypotheses of where the sustainability movement is going. Edwards asserts that sustainability is raising a new consciousness and imparting shared values and as such defines a new paradigm shift or lens through which a wide range of issues and problems can be examined. As such, this book may appeal to academics, as well as business leaders, policy makers, and those concerned about environmental issues.

May 20, 2008

Book Review : The Wall Street Journal Complete ... Guide

The Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guide
Jeff D. Opdyke
HG 179 .O639 2006

The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guide: How to Plan It, Live It and Enjoy It
Glenn Ruffenach & Kelly Greene
HQ 1063.2 .U6 R84 2007

These two guides help you to manage money during your earning years as well as your retirement years. The Complete Personal Finance Guide helps you to budget for and manage everyday expenses, use credit cards wisely, save and invest. It also helps you develop strategies concerning real estate purchases and to plan for retirement. The Retirement Guide picks up where the Complete Personal Finance Guide leaves off. It begins by addressing how much money you will need to save for your retirement based on how you plan to spend your time. It offers tips for turning interests into a second job, hobby, or volunteer activity. It also helps to guide you through the complexities of Social Security, Medicare, 401(k)s, IRAs, insurance, long term care, estate planning, and similar financial and welfare concerns. Both books are easy to understand, putting financial jargon into everyday language, and packed full of tips, hints, and real-life examples that help you relate the authors' recommendations to your own financial situation.

May 19, 2008

Book Review - Climate Change Policy

Climate Change Policy: A Survey
edited by Stephen H. Schneider, Armin Rosencranz, and John O. Niles
QC 981.8 .C5 C511416 2002

This is a collection of essays that survey the issues surrounding climate change. The authors acknowledge that it is incomplete, but have tried to address major scientific and policy issues that are involved in the climate change debate including pollution, deforestation, energy production, industry, land use, agriculture, and population growth. A wide variety of perspectives are included here, and discussion is given to ideological differences based on scientific interpretation and value differences. The essays are organized into topical sections. First, the science of global warming is presented and its implications evaluated. Second, the economics of global climate regulation are analyzed. Third, national and international policies on issues that affect global warming are presented. Fourth, the role of forests and agriculture is discussed. Fifth, industrial development is examined and a variety of proposals for reducing greenhouse gasses are assessed based on their equity to those involved. Finally, alternative energy choices are considered. This book may be used as a textbook, but is also informative for those involved in policy decisions for those interested in environmental issues.

May 16, 2008

Book Review - Patton's Fighting Bridge Builders

Patton's Fighting Bridge Builders: Company B, 1303rd Engineer General Service Regiment
edited by Joseph C. Fitzharris
D 769.335 1303rd .P38 2007

The diary of Company B, 1303rd Engineers forms the core of this book. Intended to serve as a non-combat unit, this group was tasked with building bridges and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for Patton's Army to advance across Europe in pursuit of the Germans. What this diary records, however, is that this "non-combat" unit often served as the southern flank of Patton's advancing Army. Twice, they were called on to deploy as infantrymen to repel German attacks, and their bridge-building efforts were often conducted while under enemy fire so that the Army could continue advancing. Fitzharris has edited this diary, filling in the missing pieces and clarifying references made by the soldiers so that they can be understood in the context of the larger campaign. This story is interesting by itself, but it also shows the central importance of engineers, general service regiments, and other support units to the outcome of World War II.

Book Review - Energy

Energy: Science, Policy, and the Pursuit of Sustainability
ed by Robert Bent, Lloyd Orr, and Randall Baker
TJ 163.2 .E4865 2002

Over the last few years, we have seen energy prices fluctuating wildly. Recently, the price of fossil fuels, particularly oil, is climbing dramatically. As the world's biggest consumer of fossil fuels energy, it is a key player in the world's energy markets. A Federal energy policy is becoming an increasing concern as these rising prices reveal America's dependence on foreign oil supplies, raising questions about our self-sufficiency and national security. This book offers an introduction to the energy "problem" facing the United States. Individual chapters point out the link between energy use and environmental problems, cultural factors involved in energy use, the role of energy in economic growth, and context for the current position that America faces, both compared to other nations and its own past and future. While thoroughly referenced and reliant on data, this book is written in a style to be accessible to the non-scientist.

May 14, 2008

Book Review - Biomimicry

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Janine M. Benyus
T 173.8 .B45 2002

This book is all about how humans can learn from nature. Benyus uses real-life examples taken from laboratory and field observations, pointing out how scientists are discovering nature's ingenious functions and designs, then applying the knowledge to human problems. Organized into questions on which biological life can inform people, it examines how we feed ourselves, harness energy, make things, heal ourselves, store information and learning, and interact with others. The final chapter hypothesizes where nature may lead us in the future if we care enough to pay attention and learn from its lessons. This book has several undercurrent themes. Among them are finding natural rather than engineered solutions and using nature sustainably. This book will interest those interested in the environment, in science, and in problem-solving.

Book Review - Resilience and the Behavior of Large Scale Systems

Resilience and the Behavior of Large-Scale Systems
edited by Lance H. Gunderson and Lowell Pritchard Jr.
QH 541 .R45 2002

This book examines the stability of ecosystems. The authors interpret the idea of resilience as the capability to exist in a steady state without drastic changes to its predictable behavior. The concept of resilience is then applied to environmental systems, getting at ideas of sustainability through systems analysis. After discussing the definitions and applications of this systems analysis framework to environmental problems, the book delves into analysis of specific ecosystems. Lakes, coral reefs, rangelands, and tropical forests are just some of the ecosystems that are studied here. This book is detailed and combines theory with analysis. It will be of most use to environmental scientists and engineers.

May 9, 2008

Book Review - The Military Advantage

The Military Advantage: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Military & Veterans Benefits
Christopher P. Michel
UC 74 .M52 2006

This book provides an overview of benefits available to military personnel and veterans. The author maintains that often these programs and benefits are unused because service members are not aware of them. These are portrayed as advantages, and grouped into topical categories. These include money, pay, health care, benefits, education, career, transitioning out, and benefits for families. This book is essential for all service members and their families to read.

Book Review - Mid-Course Correction

Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: the Interface Model
Ray C. Anderson
HD 110 .E5 A6616 1998

Anderson shares his personal transformation from an industrial entrepreneur to advocate of sustainable manufacturing. Anderson's first person narrative overviews the growth of his carpet manufacturing company, Interface Inc. In a series of personal speeches originally made to his customers and business competitors, Anderson also reveals how he came to realize the devastation that his company's manufacturing process had on the environment. Billions of pounds of raw materials are extracted from the earth annually. Some of these resources are burned up to produce the power needed to manufacture his flooring products, at the same time giving off gases and pollutants that contaminated the air and contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer. Sickened by this reality, Anderson vowed to become the first manufacturing company whose process was completely sustainable--that it contributed positively to the earth's environment as much as it removed, and even went beyond to help restore depleted natural resources. Anderson presents his company's plan for achieving sustainability and how they are working to get there. While he makes no attempt at supporting his claims scientifically, Anderson offers concrete suggestions to raising environmental consciousness and lessening the impact of humans, particularly in industry, on the earth.

May 7, 2008

Book Review - How

How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything ... in Business (and in Life)
Dov Seidman
HF 5386 .S4159 2007

Seidman argues that it is no longer WHAT we do in our professional lives that sets us apart. Rather it is HOW we do our work that counts. Organized into four parts, Seidman's book explicates how our thoughts, behaviors, and values can be shifted to focus on how we go about our work. In the first part, Seidman highlights changes in society and our work environments that result in the shift from productivity to how we work. In part two, he focuses on how individuals think, emphasizing personal strengths and doing the "right" thing. Part three centers around how we behave, interrelate with our peers, and think about one another. Finally, he probes leadership and governance, both in the work environment and in society. This is an interesting concept that encourages everyone to be more conscious of their thoughts and behaviors, and to think about their values as much as their personal accomplishments.

Book Review - Fundamentals of Environmental Sampling and Analysis

Fundamentals of Environmental Sampling and Analysis
Chunlong Zhang
GE 45 .S75 Z43 2007

This book is designed as a reference book and textbook for graduate students and practitioners working on environmental analysis. It discusses a wide variety of sampling methods, explaining why certain procedures should be chosen based on the contaminant or the analytical method that will be used to study it. Zhang reviews the fundamental theories and analytical methods in analytical and organic chemistry, statistics, hydrology and geology, as well as environmental science and law, placing these disciplines into the context of sampling. At the same time, he discusses a wide range of analytical techniques, delving into the science behind them and explaining the answers that each technique can provide. This background comes together in a chapter on designing sampling studies and a list of experiments that serve as case studies. This is a thorough resource for environmental scientists and engineers working in the field.

May 5, 2008

Book Review - Drinking Water

Drinking Water: Principles and Practices
P.J. de Moel, J.Q.J.C. Verberk, and J.C. van Dijk
TD 370 .M64 2006

This book is intended to serve as curriculum for civil engineering courses on public water supply. Arranged in ten stand-alone modules, the course materials address sanitation of public water supplies, consumption rates, quality and water sources, design and financial implications for drinking water companies, and specific details about the drinking water used in the Netherlands. This book will be useful to those who study water as well as engineers who want to compare one type of service infrastructure to another.

Book Review - Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities
Mark A. Benedict and Edward T. McMahon
HD 1391 .B46 2006

Benedict and McMahon assert that green space preservation needs to be linked to community growth and development planning. They recognize that preservation efforts over the last 50 years have been very successful at protecting open space, especially those prized for their natural beauty or recreation potential. However, these efforts are predominantly local and are often isolated from one another. When conservation efforts are considered as a part of long-term land development planning, patterns of development such as urban sprawl which are expensive and infrastructure intensive can be avoided. At the same time, open spaces can be set aside to capitalize on recreation potential, habitat preservation and pollution mitigation. This book defines "green infrastructure" as a new way to think about land use and a reconceptualization of the process of development planning. This book should be considered by politicians, urban planners, and developers as well as those interested in environmental conservation.

May 2, 2008

Book Review - Egonomics

Egonomics: What Makes Ego our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability)
David Marcum & Steven Smith
HF 5386 .M30873 2007

Marcum and Smith examine the tension between ego and humility in achieving personal and professional success. Based on years of research, the authors identify early warning signs when ego begins to get in the way of success. These include being competitive, being defensive, showing off, and seeking acceptance. At the same time, they point to humility as a key ingredient to finding balance between conceit and self-doubt. They point to welcoming conflicting opinions, having curiosity, and understanding reality as the characteristics of humility that keep ego in check. This is an interesting and rarely articulated component in the discussion of personal development and professional success.

Book Review - Ecological Restoration

Ecological Restoration: Principles, Values and Structure of an Emerging Profession
Andre F. Clewell and James Aronson
QH 541.15 .R45 C54 2007

This book defines many of the terms and concepts in the growing field of ecological restoration. In doing so, it simultaneously takes ecological and cultural perspectives. These authors believe that ecosystems and humans are inseparable, and that it is not possible to restore an ecosystem completely or permanently without also addressing the relationship that people have with nature. They also assert that people take on ecological restoration projects because they satisfy human needs and values, whether these are focused around the environment or are dependent on social or economic importance that can be derived from nature. The book is organized into twelve chapters that read more as stand-alone essays. Between chapters, readers are taken on "virtual field trips" or photo-essays of restoration projects that illustrate various points made in the chapters. This book is intended both for general audiences and for scientists and project managers who have been working in the environmental field.