Point of Beginning

Editor's Points: Surveyors are cookin'.

April 30, 2008
Years ago, I asked the administrator of our popular RPLS.com industry bulletin board to add a category titled “Hobbies, Sports and Recipes.” I will admit thinking it was a bit funny.

To contact the editor, send an e-mail to hohnerl@bnpmedia.com.


It’s not that such an “extracurricular” category wasn’t warranted--numerous posts had proven it was--but to me, it was funny that surveyors had so many good recipes to share. Well, there are more than I thought.

As of early April, the RPLS community--a group that has established itself as a worldwide collective of All Things Surveying (and then some)--has created its very own cookbook. And it’s not a small collection from the ladies in the cul-de-sac who gather once a month to gossip and gobble their homemade goodies.

No, the RPLS Cookbook is a thick, hearty helping of everything edible--from morning vittles to sweets and party foods. Custom chapters close out the book with “Tips” and “Humor,” which demonstrate the surveyors’ wit and include “Recipe to Regain Your Humility,” “CAD Monkey Lunch” and “Deadline Office Recipe.”

But “The RPLS Cookbook: A compilation of recipes from surveyors and surveyors’ friends” is more than just ingredients on a page. It is a collection of camaraderie and respect.

The 1-inch-thick, almost 2-lb, 8.5 x 11-inch bound paperback opens with a note of appreciation from David Lee Ingram, chairman of the board of trustees of the new National Museum of Surveying in Springfield, Ill. Purchases of the cookbook will benefit the museum, which is scheduled to open next spring.

In the note, Ingram writes: “[Surveyors] set an example of service that survives to this day and this book of recipes is another small example of that leadership.” He continues: “As you peruse this book … you are going to see that surveyors have some strange tastes and likes when it comes to food.”

Ingram’s observation is evidenced in the book’s first recipe submitted by Land Surveyors Workshops (LSW) founder Larry Phipps: a mayo, cheese and banana sandwich. Others follow. Oklahoma city surveyor and a top RPLSer (as they’re now known) Deral Paulk (aka Trimble Man) submitted his concoction of smokies, chili sauce and grape jelly. And frequent contributor Dave Smith of Pennsylvania offers up “Viking Salad,” a combination of pickled herring, sun-dried tomatoes, beans and berries. Hey, each to his own, I guess. Oh, but there are more conventional recipes, too.

In his introduction to the cookbook, editor and “Slammin’ Salmon” contributor Bill Barker of Wyoming relates the surveyor’s heritage from Ancient Egypt to the present day. “From the ancients to modern surveyors, one common thread has passed down with little change. We get hungry. We get real, real hungry doing a tough job.” Barker contributed chapter titles like “Beans: To keep the operation moving,” “Chili and Stew: Food to stick to your ribs,” “Salads: Those foods that mother always said were so good for you” and “Lunch: A quick break for body and soul.”

Graphics to accompany Barker’s titles were drawn by Wendell T. Harness, PLS, of Oregon. Most are survey-related including a survey-gear-filled sandwich held together with a prism and pole-like toothpick, plumb bobs and kettles hanging from a tripod over an open fire, field equipment in a slow cooker or wrapped in a tortilla, and a block of targets chopped in a bread mold.

This collection of clever chapters and creative graphics and recipes is sure to be a welcome gift to many surveyors for many occasions. I’m glad I added the “Hobbies, Sports and Recipes” category to the RPLS.com board. And you will be, too, if you order your RPLS Cookbook today.



LSW’s Phipps has taken on the role of cookbook distributor at no charge to the museum. The first copy is $25, and additional copies are $20 each (plus $5 postage). Call LSW at 800/533-4387 to order. A complimentary copy is sent to those who join the National Museum of Surveying at the $150 Deputy Surveyor level. See www.surveyhistory.org/national_museum_of_surveying.htm for an application.