Friday, April 29, 2016

Pipeline Safety Bill

The Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a pipeline safety bill with a provision on enhanced mapping and location data.

Friday, January 8, 2016


By John Stock, NSPS President No. 6 (1986)
Back in the day: Okay don’t groan. This is not another dinosaur Stock’s tale of physical adventure. I have been looking for an explanation of why surveyors have done a great job of ignoring their duty as land boundary experts and allowing kindred members of the geospatial industry to rob them of their rightful place. My own career starting in 1966 is a prime example. The tools of the trade were a transit, steel tape, and dumpy level and “Philadelphia” level rod. The crew was at least three and sometimes four members. Everyone had a specific duty and all had to perform correctly to achieve results. Consider a boundary traverse in the high country.
There was the party chief, the instrument man, and the brush cutter at a minimum. The instrument man (gunner) sometimes doubled as the tail chain, the party chief head chained and took the notes. He also assisted in clearing line. All the equipment was mechanical, without batteries, all data was hand written and information was yelled back and forth between crew members. You get the idea now how easily blunders could occur. Then came the office grind and a real grind it was. The task of looking up numbers in trig tables, more writing, calculating sometimes with a pencil and if lucky a primitive calculator like a Singer, Monroe or Friden the size of a TV set that would add, subtract, multiply and divide contributed to the tedious and mind numbing drill. Then came adjustments, Transit rule, compass rule, filling out a sheet and more computations by double meridian distance to get an area. This was hard, brain sucking work that had to be done perfectly. Chasing down a blundered calculation in this myriad of numbers was a true nightmare. With all this to perform it would seem very difficult if not incredibly budget blowing to do any real research. After all you would have to go down to the courthouse, ask questions of staff, dig through books, and make more notes, make copies and pay for them. Many didn’t bother to do this critical step. Oh, and don’t forget getting ahold of the appropriate GLO notes and plats. Expert MEASURING dominated the labor effort.
Not reading Clark, Skelton and especially Brown in those days was standard procedure. The surveyor might have owned the books but rarely cracked them (just like today huh?) And don’t forget the various BLM manuals of Instruction that our State Boards and Legislators saddled us with, requiring us (at least in our minds) to do it “their way”. Because we were so busy measuring we didn’t read. Had someone in the sixties started blowing the bugle we wouldn’t be in this situation today. The information was always there if a person were to read carefully and completely, not taking paragraphs out of context. One prime example is the doctrine of cardinal equivalents in a proportion solution in the various manuals. In my travels as a seminar presenter I would usually ask the crowd if they had ever heard the term. A few hands would go up. This is a room of over 150 people! The next question was “did you ever apply them”?” Most did not.
The expert measuring crutch has long ago been ripped from us by the very technology we pay for and worship. To maintain the PROFESSION of Land Surveying we have to reinvent ourselves into solving land boundary problems as far as the law will allow. Boundary is all we have left to be a unique group in the land identification industry. The process of examining, licensing and regulating surveyors must be protected at all costs. To be this new kind of surveyor, you have to READ, STUDY, Attend Classes whether in person or on line. This is the true labor of the 21st century surveyor. I for one don’t want the 21st century surveyor to be the last.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Lied to Yogi, and that is the Simple Truth By Bob Dahn, NSPS Past President

When Yogi passed, my friend Alonzo posted some photos of, and quips about, Yogi. I had been thinking about Yogi, and I shared this story with him. My wife suggested I share it with everyone, or at least the “everyone” that I know.

 The first baseball number I wore was 8. I played one form or another of organized ball into my sixties. I did not always wear 8, but when I finally finished playing ball 2 or 3 years ago I was wearing 8. Clearly 8 is the perfect number, whenever Yogi slid or dove for a ball it was infinity.

I don't remember a great deal prior to 1960, for that matter I don't remember a great deal after 1960. I do remember a day in 1957 or 1958. Baseball was my first love, a love that has endured. My dad would bring us to a game or two a year. Sitting in the upper decks, or by the foul poles, it did not matter. Being at the Yankee Stadium was a gift. Writing this is like seeing that perfect field for the first time all over again. 

This particular day, my dad had gotten front row tickets directly behind home plate. Even though it meant we would have no chance to catch a ball, I was thrilled to be sitting so close to Yogi. At some point early in the game a pitch was fouled directly toward our seats. It slammed into the base of the wall, squeezed underneath and appeared at my feet. I picked it up quickly and put it in my glove. Convinced I would be forced to give it back, I tried to act like I hadn't seen a thing. 

The ball boy came over to retrieve the ball and after looking around without success went to the umpire to tell him that the ball was missing. The umpire and Yogi turned around and came over to have a look for themselves. Having no more luck than the ball boy, they looked at each other, puzzled. Then Yogi turned, looked at me and said "Hey kid did you see where that ball went?" Probably red with guilt I looked down and mumbled something like, “no sir”. I had lied to Yogi Berra, and that is the simple truth. 

The ball was kept in an honored location for several years, until one day the desire to catch, throw, and hit the “Yogi Ball” was overwhelming. I grabbed the ball and rushed off to use it in a pick up game. Without uttering a word to anyone about the ball, we began the game. Sure enough it got hit into the woods, probably by some kid wearing 7, never to be seen again. At the time, it seemed like the most foolish thing I could have done. Today, thinking about Yogi, the ball, and that day so long ago, maybe it should be the fate of every ball to be lost in the woods, or the hands of some awestruck kid sitting in the cheap seats. 

Yogi was a blessing both on and off the field. Reflecting on this special day, with my wonderful father, the stadium and the ball, I can imagine Yogi might have said, “the ball may have been lost, but it made real good time getting there”.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

There is always something to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving 
from the National Society of Professional Surveyors and Staff

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Meet Indiana's oldest state employee - Bob Vollmer - Professional Surveyor

By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter
CORYDON, Ind. - Bob Vollmer has so many things he wants to do every day. The only difference between Bob and the rest of us is that he actually does them and has done them for going on 99 years. 
Vollmer has just about seen it all, but Indiana's oldest state employee sees it from a different perspective.
He has surveyed nearly every inch of O'Bannon Woods State Parkin his job as surveyor with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"This is totally a one-man operation," he says as he sets up his equipment in the park.
It used to be a two- or three-man operation all across the state, but technology has changed quite a bit over the span of his 55 years with the department.  He does put out a few reminders to keep his mind sharp like the "dummy, get the battery" note on the dashboard.
"It would be awful to get all the way out here and find out you did not have the battery," he explains.
"Starting robotic connection," an electronic voice says to him emanating from his equipment.

The job requires staying up to date with the latest technology, which is no small feat.
"You just turned 98. Is that right?" I ask him while he works.

"I'm getting close to 99," Vollmer corrects me.  He says he will turn 99 in four months.
That makes him the oldest state employee in Indiana and most likely the oldest state employee in the United States, which has not gone entirely unnoticed.
"One of my great grandsons asked his mother the other day if I knew Adam and Eve. I couldn't believe it. I know I am old, but I didn't know Adam and Eve," he states emphatically.
But he does know Morse code and tells me FDR was the first president he ever voted for.

"You remember FDR?" I ask. 
"You betcha I do.  He is the guy who saved our ass," he remembers.
"You've got to remember the Depression. You don't want a depression.  Anything but that, 'cause you got to feed your kids. If you don't have money to buy it, you are going to steal it. It is just that simple," Vollmer says. But he also shared a story about how his father was shot in the shoulder while trying to prevent a robbery at the family run warehouse during the Depression.

"How long are you going to keep working?" I wonder aloud. "At 98 you should have retired 40 years ago."
"I know," Vollmer says.  "I really don't know [if I'll retire.] Maybe you don't want to quit working. Nobody should quit. Just do something," he answers.

"Is that the secret to long life, if there is one?" I ask.

"When you quit working, you start what they call rocking. I don't like the term, but that is what you do," Vollmer says.
The man who was born when Woodrow Wilson was president, graduated from Purdue and started working at the DNR when JFK was inaugurated still has his draft card from World War II.
"October 16th, 1940.  It says, 'carry it with you at all times' and I still got it. I stopped carrying it because it is about worn out but I don't think they are going to call me anymore," he shares.
That's because he is still needed here.
"Now see that instrument is still pointing at me. It will follow me no matter where I go," he shares his amazement at the latest technology that he is able to conquer. The gadgets that should intimidate him, only serve to invigorate him.
Vollmer says the only thing that really burns him up these days is when kids say they have nothing to do.  He says that really blows his mind.
Vollmer  himself is not ready to rock. He's still on a roll. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys standards approved - (Effective February 23, 2016)

The Board of Governors of the American Land Title Association (10/8/15) and the Board of Directors of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (10/9/15) have each approved the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land TitleSurveys  This approval comes after continual acceptance, review, and response by the joint ALTA/NSPS Liaison Committee to questions/suggestions related to the standards since they were last approved in 2011. Members will note the name change for the standards. In consideration that ACSM was merged into NSPS a few years ago, both organizations agreed that the name should be reflective of the organizations approving the document.