Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

March 1998

False easting

I have always assumed that eventually I would know what I was talking about or, at least, be able to understand what someone else was talking about.

So far, no good.

I used to have lunch with some clients who were research scientists. Their company manufactured laboratory tools of various sizes, sorts and applications. That was their business but their passion was research. I was reasonably good at analyzing manufacturing operations or participating in pricing discussions. But, when it came to research and development only occasionally would I come close to understanding their conversations. Like once, they were debating whether to pursue a bold development track or a me-too strategy. They asked Michael, a recent Soviet emigre, what the Pushkin gang would do.

Michael said, The home run, the spectacular course! Naturally, its far more interesting to do pure research than to tinker around the edges.

However, here, I would go for the dollars, the sure thing.

Everyone was stunned.

Why, he was asked, would he assume the Soviets would favor discovery while us capitalists would seek the safety of the well worn path?

There, he answered, to succeed you only have to be seen working hard. Here, you must have results.

I am still puzzled by his answer. Weren't the red menancers famous for ripping off stuff like atomic energy secrets? Wasn't Bob Hope right when he credited the United States competitive excellence in space to the fact that our German scientists were better than their German scientists?

Whatever. All that was so long ago. I now have all new categories of stuff I dot understand but am willing to talk about at length.

Like false easting!

The deal is this. There are two standards for mapping (beyond NEWS, compass points, longitudes, latitudes, little scale thingys and different colors to differentiate road bumpiness). The standards are referred to as NAD27 and NAD83. The old standard NAD27, in use since 1927, was replaced by NAD83 in (you're better than me if you guessed) 1983. Perhaps this had something to do with Hank Aaron topping Babe Ruth but I need to research that further.

One of the ways you know you are mixing the standards is if you get a false easting. A false easting is a negative value returned as the location of a datum on a map. Some world maps are more than 100 meters off. In Vermont, the difference between the two standards is more like 35 meters, which is still pretty significant if you're digging stuff or putting up a fence to keep people from falling off a cliff, you know.

Isn't it amazing how much information I can relay without really understanding what the heck I’m talking about. In truth, I suspect there are more people like me than wed all like to think.

One thing I absolutely know: You can find all the names of the crowd on last months magazine cover by logging on to the Worlds One Website dedicated to Greater Burlington business people www.VermontGuides.com.