Editorial: Various and Sundry

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There’s something calming about cows. A small dairy farm flanks the road that leads into the densely populated subdivision where we live. Urban commuters buzz in and out, but the cows just graze on, unhurried by the rush on the other side of the fence. "Looks like an eighty percent chance of rain today," remarked my wife as we drove past the herd the other day. "Why do you say that?" I asked. She smiled and replied, "Eight of the ten cows are lying down…" And sho `nuf, it rained that day.

Farmers, fishermen, surveyors and pioneers were reading signs in nature long before the watchful eyes of weather satellites provided glimpses of impending storms. We’ve grown dependent on their information, as technology has birthed some amazing stuff. Nonetheless, just as cows tend to lie down as barometric pressure drops before a storm, or arthritis kicks up in aging joints, it doesn’t always take technology or a computer spun set of economic statistics to paint a clear picture of what’s happening around us.

A recent Associated Builders and Contractors report states that nonresidential spending fell 3.3 percent in January, but residential construction spending was virtually unchanged for the month, and is up 21.1 percent compared to the same time last year. Total construction spending—­which includes both nonresidential and residential spending­—was down 2.1 percent for the month, but is up 7.1 percent compared to January 2012. So much for what statistics tell us. Economic health can also be measured by the number of 18-wheelers on the interstates and what they’re carrying, or by the size of the employment section in the Sunday newspapers, particularly those for surveyors.

In talking with surveyors across the country, we’re hearing that firms have more work, but still not enough backlog. It seems to me that our country is experiencing a slow-wave tsunami as companies come to grips with more regulations and higher taxes and the prospect of four more years of reduced construction activity. The March success of the stock market may largely be tied to the Fed’s funny money policy. As long as the Fed continues to print money and keep interest rates low, the stock market will in no way reflect what’s really happening in our economy. For decades, Steve Forbes has been advocating a return to the gold standard that would remove the dollar from la-la land and put our country on a better footing around the world. It might be hard to make the connection between such things as the value of the dollar, trade agreements and increased construction that would give surveyors more work, but exports creates jobs and construction, so the two are linked.

In this issue
Chad Erickson is back with another installment of his experiences with BLM shenanigans, this time writing about Order Out of Chaos. I have to agree with Chad: it simply makes no sense to proportion when evidence exists. I recall the hundreds of sections we re-established in the Oklahoma region during the oil boom of the 70s. Because Oklahoma had built so many roads along the section lines and obliterated the original corners, often the best evidence was the quarter corner fences outside the section in question. Even so, we tried to avoid double-proportioning if at all possible. But what Chad says rings true: often in the western states, evidence does exist, and it’s up the surveyor to find it. But paramount in all this is the well-founded doctrine of honoring the original corner, something that has sometimes been ignored by the BLM, most recently in IBLA surveys.

You can see by the Letters to the Editor on page 51 that we’ve had quite a bit of response to both Chad’s article, Mike Pallamary’s articles, and Landon Blake’s articles. All four of us have received several more letters from people who did not wish to have their letters published, and we’ve even received a couple of anonymous letters. As a matter of policy, we will not publish anonymous letters. We will, however, withhold the writer’s name on request, so please feel to weigh in.

We posted a long article by Mike titled "Measurement is Dead; Long Live Measurement," in the Online Only area of amerisurv.com and it has really taken off. Mike posted the link to the article in the LinkedIn Land Surveyors Advisory Council on Technical Standards group he manages, and he says the LSACTS group site is in the top ten percent of all LinkedIn sites. And speaking of the LinkedIn Surveyors group which I manage, we are close to 7,000 members now, and quite a few jobs are being posted in the group. The members are from all over the world, and many of the discussions are both interesting and useful, and above all, polite. Mike continues with the theme of monument destruction in his Angle Points column in this issue by providing examples from across the country. Mike also supplies us with another installment of the Curt Brown Chronicles, this time a review of Curt’s seminal book Boundary Control and Legal Principles. The review appeared in 1957, and is yet another example of how we are still discussing the same topics more than 50 years later.

Rounding out the issue, Jerry Penry writes an article about the use of guns to create a vertical line of light for triangulation. Landon Blake weighs in with a court case about water rights. Robert Galvin provides us with a review of MicroSurvey software. Tom Davis and Nancy Metzger are back with an installment about another cool app they have developed for Google Earth. One of the most-hit articles in the history of the magazine has been an article about tractor pulling. In this issue, we have another such article, this time by a Virginia surveyor.

I’d like to give a special shout out to Wendy Lathrop for her tireless efforts to educate us on topics that affect land development. Of all the people who have written for the magazine, Wendy has appeared in every issue except one, and that was simply due to a timing issue. As many of you know, Wendy is on the road almost non-stop putting on seminars. I’m pleased to see her collaborating with Bart Crattie on FEMA issues. Remember, because they require a certification, and until such time as super accurate DEMs and low-altitude photogrammetry take it away from us, flood certs are an area that is our bailiwick and something at which we can make money. Look for more about these topics in future issues.

In my last editorial I wrote about eCognition software originally developed by Definiens. I stated that Trimble had purchased Definens. This is incorrect, and Todd Taylor, Senior Marketing Manager, Trimble Imaging Division, wrote from Munich to say

Thanks for the prominent placement and for the editorial coverage. However, when I read the editorial it raised a couple of concerns regarding accuracy that should be addressed:
• Definiens is a company that continues to exist today. It was not bought by Trimble.
• eCognition as a product was acquired by Trimble in an asset deal.
(Editor’s note: you can search for Definiens on our website to see the press release describing the deal.)
• Since the acquisition, eCognition has continued to develop in a direction different to the products offered by Definiens. The current product from Definiens can be found on its website.
• eCognition is developed, marketed and sold exclusively by Trimble: there is only Trimble eCognition and there is no Definiens eCognition as referred to in the article.

We apologize to Definiens for this mistake.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 251Kb PDF of t
his article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE