Saturday, April 23, 2005


I am a very simple guy. Very simple. I've done this survey gig for quite a few years, and I can't remember very many days that didn't pass without me whipping out a sketch or two. Not very good sketches, and nothing remotely approaching drafting quality (beyond them being scale) or even art - just simple drawings that by their execution allow me to communicate more effectively.

One of my tag lines is "draw me a picture".

I have encountered a situation where other people have similar ideas. And the ramifications for me are pretty rough.

Last Monday: "We'd like to get an idea of what the next phase looks like."

Fair enough - I reach for my plans...

"So go ahead and stake out the Pod (X) roads with lathe on centerline (graded to finish elevation), one lathe every hundred feet in tangents, one every fifty in curves, and use a different color of flagging at each PC/PT (point of curvature/point of tangency); you might as well stake each construction envelope (four, sometimes as many as six corners) plus a stake at center of pad, graded to finish."

One main artery road five thousand feet long, two culdesacs and a connector for another two thousand feet. Sixty 1.5 to 2 acre lots. Across four hills with about thirty percent coverage of scrub oak.

O.K. I can do that. It just means I'll have to work faster on the four thousand feet of curb stakes I am setting to help the graders clean up the roads after our winter... and it's all time and materials, so overtime is not a problem.

Tuesday morning: "That's looking really, really good. Our marketing people may want to bring in some clients to look at some lots in a few weeks.

A few weeks is good, especially since it's going to rain like hell tonight and tomorrow. Maybe that will get rid of the last of the snow under the scrub oak - where a disgustingly high number of my points have been landing.

Wednesday: Rain. Can't work on the Pod, but I hammer out enough curb to get ahead of the graders who are spending this day working on their equipment. The mud is deep enough to swallow a Caterpillar grader whole, but merely makes a surveyor's work miserable.

Thursday: Arrive on job with every intention of finishing the Pod and getting another thousand feet of curb staked. Today is real rain - the ducks are wearing raincoats.

Friday: 0700 - stop into office to pick up more wood and check with the office folks about my timecards, mileage, office keys, phone, and credit card. Life is great! Everything is on track, I should be fully equipped by Monday, less my laptop. Head for door with a bounce in my step and a song in my heart. I'm on the team and ready to rock!

0710 - The project engineer in charge of my project calls me and tells me to come down to the drafting room. Seems the OWNER of the project has discovered several hundred feet of slope and road that are built entirely wrong. This is killer - this kind of event can lead to locked gates and lawyers. The road alignment for that stretch was known to have been bollixed by the engineering/survey outfit that we replaced on this job, but I had been led to believe (by my friend, who recruited me and who I am replacing on this project) that the issues had been resolved. I am not familiar enough with the project yet. I don't know how to lay my hands on the relevant data in my GPS controller right off the bat, so it's off to the site to investigate and analyze. I call up my friend and tell him to boogie on over - I need his background.

1200: What the owner saw was the result of winter slough onto the roadway. There is no problem. I've spent a half day figuring it out. Oh, and we had to swap out our GPS base...and spend two hours updating our rover and getting it to play nice with the new equipment.

1400: "Those story poles in Pod (X) are looking really, really good. You can almost imagine the houses, looking out at all those roads and lots, can't you? Did your office tell you about the Pod (other) we want also? Oh... well, just as long as they are done on Monday for the client showing, it will be fine."

It's about 2030 on Saturday night as I write this. I've been home an hour. I will be on the ground there tomorrow at 0600. I've only got about sixty more points to set, and most of that in the (relative) flat.

Now you know why I haven't been blogging. I've been drawing pictures, instead.

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