Saturday 27 January 2024

March, 1988: Spend $2000 Before the End of the Month

    During my time working for the BC Forest Service, it seemed we were always scrambling around to find enough money to do the projects that we needed to do, but during the first part of 1988, I was sent a memo by Management that my mapping department should try to spend $2,000 before the end of March.  It had been determined by our Forest District that we had been allotted more money than we had spent, and if it wasn’t spent, we would lose it.

    Getting a directive to spend more money was something I was not used to, but I started looking around for things that I might need in my mapping work.  I ordered a big supply of the every day things we always used:  more large size paper for maps, toner cartages for our large format printer, an electric eraser to use on mylar and vellum, and a new set of pens and ink for drawing the maps.  The one big  budget, high-tech item I bought was a $700 planimeter, something that would come in handy in my mapping, and didn’t have.

    A planimeter is an instrument that was used by surveyors and other technicians that worked with  maps, to calculate the size of a portion of land.  It was something I often had to do; finding the size of logged areas or of a forest fire.

    For years I had always used a “dot grid” (a sheet of transparent plastic with black uniformly spaced dots) to find the area of things.  By counting the numbers of dots within an area’s perimeter on a map, the acreage or number of hectares, could be found.  Using a dot grid was not very precise, and could be problematic when trying to use it on very large areas, because it was so easy to lose your place while counting so many dots.

A planimeter, allowed me to do the same thing, but it was more accurate, and much quicker on large areas.  After setting the scale of the map on the planimeter, I just had to move the arm of the gadget around the perimeter of the area on a map.  That gave me the acreage or hectarage of whatever area I was working on.   

I could have continued to do all my mapping work without the planimeter, but it did make my work a lot easier, although I did feel a bit guilty about spending $700 on it, and those were 1988 dollars, which were worth a lot more than today’s dollars.

    Today with all of our computer technology and digital maps, something like a dot grid or planimeter seems pretty archaic, but those were the tools that I used in my mapping work in those pre-computer days.

View my paintings:



No comments:

Post a Comment