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Author: Brian Sarnacki

Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder

Of the 3 big, domestic beer brands, I’ll drink Miller first, then Coors, and, if for some reason no alternative exists, then Bud. Still, I’m always game for an interesting non-fiction story, so I gave William Knoedelseder’s Bitter Brew a chance. I was rewarded with a surprisingly tasty story.* I had no idea the family behind the rise of Anheuser-Busch  was so dramatic and troubled. While providing a detailed history of the Anheuser-Busch company, Knoedelseder incorporates insider perspectives and the reality-show-worthy details of the Busch family. Knoedelseder focuses on the main family patriarchs and CEOs, creating a story primarily centered… Read Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder

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Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

For a historian, I have some real chronology issues. I watched Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad. I watched season 2 of The Crown before season 1. I’ve only ever seen season 2 of Stranger Things. Basically, I’m a monster. So it didn’t phase me to read Shawn Achor’s Before Happiness, which was published after The Happiness Advantage, first. It shouldn’t phase you to do the same, either. Though he references back to The Happiness Advantage a couple of times, Before Happiness is less a sequel than a book in the same niche, positive psychology. Achor focuses on “positive geniuses”… Read Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

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Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano

The more you enjoy basketball, the more you will enjoy this book. The book picks up in 1980 (Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s first year in the NBA) as the beginning of the modern NBA and runs through the 2016 finals. Each chapter is in a Question and Answer format where Serrano explores interesting topics like who are the best fictional basketball players – I cracked up when he was breaking down Air Bud. This format allows you to pick it up and put it down at will as the chapters are mostly unrelated. I have a decent grasp of… Read Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano

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Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

Contextualize was one of my go to words as an academic. I loved adding “context” to historical events and I loved reading authors who did the same. Outside of academia, there’s little use for the word. Sure people still add context, but no one ever said “Wow, Bob Costas contextualized that luge competition really well.” Eloquent Rage is a book that provides context for the experiences of a gifted black girl growing up poor in the South. A mix of memoir and social analysis, Brittney Cooper blends her personal stories, like when her grandmother told her she needed to have… Read Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

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Reflecting on My Job Search

I recently wrapped up my second non-academic job search. In some ways it was easier than the first because I had a solid nonprofit job on my resume, but relocating from Nebraska back to Michigan made the process a bit more interesting. The experience gave me a few insights, even if they’re relatively obvious in retrospect, which I summarize below. Networking is important. Moving across a couple of states meant I lost my professional network in Omaha. It’s hard when you lose your network. I did some network building stuff, but I’m sure I could have done more. Most of… Read Reflecting on My Job Search

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Read all the books!

It was one of those New Years Resolutions that I probably wasn’t going to keep (like all the others made at the beginning of this year). Still, by the end of June, I finished my 50th book of the year. I recently completed my 51st book and one book over six weeks shows how slowly I go through books when I’m not listening to audiobooks (the 51st was only the 2nd physical book of the year). To consume so many books, I just switched to audiobooks and sped them up (shout-out to the Omaha Public Library’s Overdrive subscription!). I enjoyed… Read Read all the books!

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Do Space Innovation Fellowship

The Do Space Innovation Fellowship was created to allow teachers, nonprofit workers, and librarians the space, time, and resources to create community learning projects for Omaha and beyond. I’m proud to say I coordinated the efforts to launch the first year of the fellowship. Though my move to Grand Rapids didn’t allow me to lead the project all the way to the final presentations, I am very proud of the amazing fellows that participated and the Do Space team for making everything happen. Check out the final products the fellows created: Learn to code lessons and materials using Bricklayer, which… Read Do Space Innovation Fellowship

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What is Airtable?

The cliche would be to call Airtable Google sheets on steroids. I think that sells Airtable short. I’m a fan of Airtable because it’s flexible. I’ve used it for budgeting, keeping a database of clients, project management, and tracking applications. It’s also free and cloud-based which are positives in my book. Their templates, ranging from wedding planning to advertising campaigns, show Airtable’s versatility, though so far, I have only built mine from scratch. It’s true you can do a lot of what Airtable does in other apps and websites, but its big advantage is how everything integrates seemlessly. Airtable is… Read What is Airtable?

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Lifehack: How to Read More Books

So on New Year’s Day I randomly decided that I would try some resolutions. Normally, I don’t make resolutions or, if I do, I give up before the end of January (like everyone else). And this year, I made an outrageously bold one: Read 52 books. I’m sure reading one book per week isn’t that big of a resolution for many people, but I read fairly slowly. And my consumption of books is feast or famine. I managed to read a bunch of books last summer, but haven’t really read much since then. So I took a swing and so… Read Lifehack: How to Read More Books

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An Easy Way to Map Data in R with Plotly

A couple of years ago, I wrote The complete n00bs guide to mapping in R, my first adventure into R. While that tutorial still holds up, if you’re looking to make a state-level Choropleth Map, there really isn’t anything easier than working with Ploty in R. Once you get R and RStudio installed and set up, there’s only a few steps that you need to take. If you have a spreadsheet or can make one easily enough of state-level data, like this ranking of mental health and access in the USA by states , you only need a couple of… Read An Easy Way to Map Data in R with Plotly

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