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A Field Guide to Roadside Technology Paperback – June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–For those travelers who have ever wondered what certain poles, signs, wires, markings, pipes, and other devices that line our streets, highways, and interstates are called and what functions they serve, this is the perfect book. More than 150 individual items, grouped in categories, are identified and concisely and understandably explained, often citing their unique characteristics and interesting facts. A small black-and-white photo of each device is included. The text is sufficiently detailed without being overly technical, and the information is often of that Wow, I never knew that variety. So if your readers want to know what a splice box is and how it works, or a traffic counter, radar gun, audible crossing signal, step-up transformer, or even a pump-and-stem-pipe flood-irrigation system, this book is for them. It is fun, informative, and easy to use.–Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Proves there really is a travel book out there for everyone.”  —Denver Post


"A useful little guide to all those puzzling doodads you see when the family takes its annual road trip."  —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press Inc (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556526091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556526091
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ed is curious - he wants to see the world and understand how it works. So he travels (a lot) and takes things apart. And, he enjoys putting things together from building robots to writing books.

As a math and physics major, Ed likes numbers. He's traveled to 81 countries on all 7 continents. He has directed 5 museums (including the National Inventors Hall of Fame and founding the National Toy Hall of Fame) and written more than two dozen books.

He holds a Ph.D. in oceanography and has participated in 20 some expeditions, including doing research on sea ice in Antarctica. With his wife, he has sailed across the Pacific Ocean and has done a circumnavigation teaching oceanography for Semester at Sea. Ed is a Fellow Emeritus in The Explorers Club.

An avid outdoors person, Ed runs, bikes, swims, kayaks, and SCUBA dives. Along the way he searches for the unusual gizmo to take apart or at least figure out how it works.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Technology is everywhere in the man-made world and this little field guide should have been a useful item to have in the outdoors, it even has rounded corner pages so they won't get dog-eared when you stuff the book into the pocket of your LL Bean Penobscot Parka. Plenty of information, too, with each item nicely divided into five sections: Behaviour, Habitat, How it works, Unique characteristics and Interesting facts but I was disappointed with the book because one of the key elements, the photos, are really inadequate.

A clue to this is the front and back cover with nine color photos that are repeated inside but in black and white where they just look dull and grey. Printed in a fairly coarse screen doesn't help either. Also many of them are plainly too small even though there is plenty of page space. The choice of objects seems rather arbitrary also: page thirty-four describes a car exhaust plume, page seventy-one a storm drain cover or a gas station pump on page 114. Strangely airports get only these objects: VOR station, De-icing boot, Pitot tube, Vortex generator and Ground power unit. What happened to runway markers and approach lights or airport beacons, wind socks, localizer antennas for cockpit landing systems for instance?

The subject matter is such that there are few book dealing with technology in this way and Ed Sobey's attempt does invite comparison with Brian Hayes quite stunning Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape. This a is a large beautifully printed book with every photo in color, all with detailed captions, plenty of sidebars and it's very comprehensive. There is not too much to do with the look of technology that is not in Hayes book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James D. Crabtree VINE VOICE on August 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the information shared in this book. Yes, I admit I do look out the window as I'm driving and try to "figure out what that is." Such is the excitement of my life. This guidebook addresses a lot of the things I was clueless about and confirmed many of the others that I thought I knew.

Too bad that the book isn't more comprehensive. Some of the items discussed seemed to have been picked arbitrarily while some others have been ommitted.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There aren't too many books on the subject. Actually it's the only book I find on roadside infrastructure. Since there isn't anything to compare it to I must give it at least a 4 star rating. If your reading these reviews a and previewing the book then you to are interested in the subject. Buy the book. You will get several "did not known" out of it.

There are several things I have issue with the book over. One is the photos not localizing its subject well enough. Another is why the author didn't list what the items are made of, it is a field guide after all. More tidbits such as "almost all man hole covers are made in India" would be nice, not necessary but does add to the creditability of the text to be used as a primary source. The index is flawed as well (try looking for manhole cover in it). There are more things I could list about the book that are irksome but they don't take away from the fact it is a simple to use and simple to understand text (thanks for not bogging me down with the science of electricity etc, I know where to go to find out about that stuff) for those that are interested in the subject. Like I say buy it, but I'm sure the cost may turn a few off. Lucky for me I held out for a nice condition $4 copy.

QUESTION THAT I CANNOT FIND ANSWER FOR AND IS NOT IN BOOK:

What are those industrial compressed gas cylinder tanks you occasionally see on the side of road for and what type of gas is in them? It appears as if they even have a black rubber line going underground attached to them, I could be thinking wrong about that part)? Anyone know?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Barsa on May 18, 2011
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Some stuff is really common sense, but some are interesting to know. It is a very basic book, and kind of like a summary of how some of this stuff works. Great for the kids.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Justin Fahmie on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a decent book, but it lacks thorough explanations and only has few black and white photos. Much better books are out there.
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