Week in Geek 1.23.15

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday

Lucky or unlucky

The number 13 – so ominous, except when it comes to bakery items. Then, it’s a delicious surprise.

i’m not superstitious though. Once in a while i’ll toss some salt over my shoulder because hey what else can you do with spilled salt?

Incidentally, the first psychedelic rock band was named 13th Floor Elevators
Incidentally, the first psychedelic rock band was named 13th Floor Elevators

So when i was getting started with this post i noticed it was the 13th consecutive Week in Geek. Looking up the number 13 to see what all the auspiciousness was about revealed some facts closer to my geeky heart.

  1. 13 is the smallest emirp, which is a prime number that results in a different prime when its digits are reversed. i never conceived there even was such a thing, and now i discover there’s a term for it. Can you guess where the term comes from?
  2. It’s a Fibonacci number, which i’ve heard of from an episode of Criminal Minds. If i’m not mistaken, it was the one where Jason Alexander was the serial killer.
  3. 13 is a happy number – made happy because the sums of the squares of its digits don’t get caught in an endless loop. That would make the number unhappy, or sad. There are 143 happy numbers before 1,000.
  4. A centered square number can have equal numbered layers of dots arranged around them – like a 9-ball setup for example. 13 is such a number.
  5.  It’s one of only three known Wilson prime number, a “prime number p such that p2  divides (p – 1)! + 1, where ‘!’ deontes the factorial function. i have no idea what that means. The other two Wilson primes are 5 and 563.

i was going to try to find 13 factoids about it but ran out of steam. Got any tidbits about the number 13 to share?

After the excursion into numeric lore, i looked back at the first Week in Geek. That was 26 days after i started working at The News-Herald. Two times 13! The creation of a weekly feature was a pitch to the editor so i could get a link here on the newspaper’s website. And it worked! A benefit to me is that i feel compelled to keep up with it, because deadlines can be a writer’s best friend. A few months ago i read an article about how us insecure creator types are more afraid to turn out nothing that something bad. So our deadlines give us that needed pressure to come up with whatever it is we do, even if we wait until the last possible moment to get it done.

The mix of local Northeast Ohio tech news and interviews, researched commentaries and hands-on work, plus the chance to slip in comic book and film tidbits has been rewarding and satisfying. Judging by the numbers, it’s got some appeal with a greater number of people out there, too.

So thank you to every one who’s new to The Long Shot over the past few weeks, and indeed to all the people who have visited here in the last two years and four months. September 2012 was my very first post. It’s very short and not very journalistic at all. Which i guess makes sense because i’d just barely started back at school and had no idea what kind of voice i had at that time.

When i publish this edition of Week in Geek, if The Long Shot were a Word document, it would be 637 pages long with 202,631 words. At the end, i did some minor editing on this particular post to wind up with those numbers. Do the math 😉

A milestone moment

Today marks another occasion for me: It is the first time i have a byline in a publication as a professional writer. And what’s better than that, but two bylines – and both on the front page.

The story about the cow stuck in a pond doesn’t count.

The stars have not yet aligned for full-time reporting, but i will say it is definitely exhilarating to get work published. It validates going back to school and i’m pretty sure i can tell people i’m a writer and not be speaking only poetically.

The stories were regional beat stuff, and it was a happy surprise to me that neither was a ho-hum experience. Both of them gave me a chance to highlight something good that is going on in the area, which is generally my goal. They both were an opportunity to do something i’m not as familiar with, too.

In one case, it was attending a city council meeting (something i’ve never done), and reporting on it (naturally, again, not done before). My takeaway from it was that the officials there really did seem to care about the residents in their community, which was nice to see.

The other one was about helping people, kids specifically. The managing editor asked for 15-25 inches but ended up closer to 30. Before starting, i had to look up a comparative word count to inch count, since that had never come up at school. That translates to 525-600 words to 700-800 words.

Right away, i knew it would be more than 15 inches. Have i ever written anything that brief? There’s a good chance the answer is no.

On an unrelated note, the first time i watched Nightcrawler, when channel editor Frank Kruse played by Kevin Rahm came into a scene i thought he bore a striking resemblance to my managing editor.

Kevin Rahm in Nightcrawler. Not saying identical to managing editor, but there's a resemblance.
Kevin Rahm in Nightcrawler. Not saying identical to managing editor, but there’s a resemblance.

Anyway, on the eve of this occasion, i celebrated by doing nothing productive. Catching up on movies was great: John Wick, Interstellar and Birdman were all terrific. Other nonproductive things i did: took a nap and played Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.

Coming up

Reporting, keeping up with fires and crashes, copy desk, second job and closing on a condo hasn’t spared much time for work on The Long Shot. It started when i missed the Coderetreat at LeanDog a few weeks back and probably will continue until i’m settled in there. That was majorly disappointing, and i haven’t had much time to practice coding since, either.

There are a few target events on the close horizon though. And an undertaking or two to work on.

  • The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge that another blogger introduced me to looks like a fun goal-creation project
  • Stark Enterprises (yes, for real) has plans for a downtown nuCLEus
  • Kent State University hosts a Fashion/Tech Hackathon Jan. 30 – Feb. 1
  • HackCWRU is Feb. 6-8
  • Visit to think[box] Jan. 28
  • Wizard World Cleveland Feb. 20-22 – covering this for The News-Herald with expanded content here

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Thanks for reading the 13th Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these were the ones that most caught my attention. If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

If you would like some further reading, about some science and technology stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did:

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Week in Geek will be back next Friday, Jan. 30 and i’d love to see you here!

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

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