# Letters to the Editor

February 28, 2003

Offsets
November 2002
I just about died laughing at [this] article. But I must take issue with the author’s premise. First of all, let me preface my remarks with the following. I have been a surveyor my whole career. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I am the son of a surveyor and I am proud to carry on the profession of my late father. After 30-plus years in the field, I traded in my muddy boots and data collector for a tie and an office and responsibility for managing two CAD technicians, an E.I.T., one survey crew and a whole host of clients who also insist that a survey shouldn’t cost more than a hundred bucks. What I didn’t realize was the necessity for becoming a teacher, a cheerleader, a counselor, a doctor and a psychiatrist. I have concluded that my job is less surveying and more medical in nature. There are times when I compute and analyze data for one hour and spend seven more trying to get my staff through bad relationships and sick kids, and then praising and congratulating [them] when they finally run a closure. To instill confidence, I have to buy doughnuts when they remember what I taught them two hours earlier.

Let me conclude by asking… “What was that phone number?”

Richard L. Thom Jr., PLS
via E-mail

Earthly Configurations
November 2002
May I comment on the article “Earthly Configurations.” At the end of the first section, there is reference to Eratosthenes finding the Earth’s circumference as 25,000 miles; then in the last line of the section there is reference to the Earth’s equatorial radius as 24,901 miles. Obviously, there are gross errors here. First, Eratosthenes found the circumference as 250,000 stades and since the stade had several values, it is uncertain which value Eratosthenes would have used, so the equivalent of 250,000 stades can vary from 52,500 to 39,400 km (32,810 to 24,625 miles). In fact Eratosthenes added 2,000 stades to his result, supposedly so that the length for 1 degree was a round figure of 700 stades. Then WGS84 is quoted in meters as 6,378,137 for the equatorial radius (3,960 miles) whence the circumference would be around the 25,000 mile mark. The above conversions are only approximate. Then in column two, same page, it says that the expedition to Peru went to “.... measure the meridional arc by astronomic observations.” In fact it was a chain of some 30 triangles in traditional triangulation arrangement spanning some 3 degrees of latitude and with many of the stations on the peaks of the Andes. Astronomical observations at the terminals would have been of no use if the triangulation had not been founded on two measured base lines to give the whole scheme scale.

J R Smith
Petersfield, Hants, UK

Surveyors of Presidential Proportion
December 2002
Thank you for bringing some historical perspective to your very interesting magazine. Your December 2002 issue describes briefly the role that surveying played in the lives of two of our most beloved presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The author, as well intentioned as she was, has misinformed your readers. A. Lincoln with Compass and Chain by Adin Baber is an informative story of Lincoln’s life as a surveyor and Baber attempts to walk in Lincoln’s footsteps. However, when she states that Baber was the first to document Lincoln’s work as a surveyor, she is misleading the reader. The two-volume book, Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years, by Carl Sandburg, (©1925) devotes a few pages to Lincoln’s surveying career. These two volumes combined with Sandburg’s four-volume masterpiece, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years, are a must-read for any serious Lincoln history buff. Sandburg tells of Lincoln’s obtaining a copy of the book, The Theory and Practice of Surveying by Robert Gibson published in 1814 with the aid of mentor Graham, the local school master, and spending endless evenings studying logarithms, trigonometry, and operating chain and compass. Lincoln, out of work and heavily in debt, had been promised the job of deputy surveyor by John Calhoun, surveyor of Sangamon County. In six weeks’ time, according to Sandburg, Lincoln had mastered his book, The Chain and the Circumferentor. Calhoun put him to work and the rest is history.

Keep up the good work by including some historical tidbits in every issue.

James Gillen, LS
Warsaw, N.Y.

Editor’s Note
January 2003
I’ve been licensed for 14 years and worked in the industry 10 years prior to being licensed. Why would anyone want to be a surveyor? The state license boards works only to hurt us. The social organizations cater only to the big companies. The public thinks I can survey just one side of their land and my service should be free. The mortgage industry thinks we are not necessary and only cause trouble, and that we should give out old maps for free. The competition copies my work and the larger a company is, the less it complies with the state statutes. Complaints to the licensing boards are ignored. Continuing education is a joke. How many times can you take the same course over and over? Getting paid requires a lawyer. Did you notice the decline in numbers of surveyors coincides with the push for continuing education? In short, we get more and more requirements and less and less assistance.

Tom Kelso

via E-mail

Mapping Out Professional Maintenance
January 2003
I feel continuing education has helped place a more responsible and higher educated surveyor in the field. As a member of a committee that is responsible for reviewing continuing education credits of the renewing professionals, it’s apparent there has been a positive result from continuing education requirements. Hopefully, the future will bring fewer violations and complaints with more profitable rates. Respect is afforded the individual surveyor by their performance and treatment of clients and staff. I for one support continuing education for all professionals who hold licenses of public trust.

Gordon Johnson, PLS, PE
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Editor’s Note
In the January 2003 article “Mapping Out Professional Maintenance,” the map of continuing education requirements for the state of New Hampshire indicated 8 hrs, 2 yrs. To clarify, New Hampshire uses CEUs not PDHs, and 1 CEU equals 4 hrs; thus, credits for New Hampshire are either 8 CEUs, 2 yrs or 32 hrs, 2yrs.

The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB.

Send your thoughts to the editor at brownl@bnp.com or mail to Letter to the Editor, POB magazine, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 1000, Troy, MI 48084.