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January 04, 2005

Congratulations To My Father!

Yesterday my dad retired after 42 years working for the United States -- first in the army, then at the Department of Defense, and then at the National Geodetic Survey, which is part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part of the Department of Commerce.

He worked as a geodesist, meaning his focus was geodesy -- which is "The geologic science of the size and shape of the earth." If you want to know about how the earth is not a perfect sphere -- and who doesn't want to know that? -- he's the man to see.

Nowadays NGS does fancy stuff like mapping the ionosphere, but they are all about mapping in general. Not surprisingly, Lewis and Clark are admired by many people in my father's line of work, including him.

You may not appreciate how important ultra-accurate maps are to life today, but they are. Oh, are they ever. Details on request.

My father may continue working in his field (which has become less mapping and more computers) in other ways, but still, today is a momentous day. And all his family sends him love and good wishes as he heads into this unmapped territory.

Posted at January 4, 2005 08:56 AM | TrackBack


How important are ultra-accurate maps to life today?

Posted by: Matthew Sullivan at January 4, 2005 09:45 AM

Congrats to your father. It sounds like a really interesting line of work. I am hoping my kids will find some field that seizes a life time of interest like that. They both seem interested in the sciences right now.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at January 4, 2005 07:38 PM


Ultra-accurate maps are REALLY important to life today. However, rather than provide a garbled, inaccurate explanation of how and why, I've asked my father to write a few paragraphs about it. I'll post this whenever he gets around to it.

I realize you may not actually be that interested, but tough.


Thank you -- I'll direct my father to your comment.

Re your kids, you obviously are doing right by them. As it happens, I just recently was talking to my parents about how hugely important it is to have parents who feel the way you do (and mine did). Many parents aren't even aware that's an issue, and squelch their kids without meaning to.

I well remember talking to my parents in junior high onward about what they thought I should do with my life. They only ever told me: "Do what makes you happy. And whatever makes you happy, makes us happy."

I kept trying to trip them up, saying snotty things like, "Well, you wouldn't be happy if I were a garbageman!" And they would reply: "No, if that really made you happy, then we'd be happy."

So, I got very lucky in the great parent lottery. And clearly your kids did too.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 5, 2005 06:45 AM

And here I always thought it was the "Geodesic Survey." Dopey me.

My father is a chemical engineer. I understand the value of the great parent lottery.

Posted by: Alexis at January 6, 2005 06:15 AM

The "Geodesic" Survey -- HAH!

Alexis, I have nothing but scorn for those who make such a preposterous mistake.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 6, 2005 06:31 AM

Forgive me. It is all the time I spent at the leproty clinic when I was training for my degrees in ptycology and toctiology.

Posted by: Alexis at January 6, 2005 12:33 PM