• Suzanne Norquist

Glad To Be Replaced By Technology

Updated: May 19

In recent times technology has replaced people in the performance of mundane tasks, and I’m glad for it. I don’t want to do those jobs anyway. Take land surveying for example.

All my married life, I’ve been the “rodman.”

On a surveying crew, there is the guy who runs the instrument, the surveyor. He’s the college guy who has lots of training. And then there’s the guy who holds the rod, a long stick with numbers on it. The only skill required is to hold the stick straight up and down, the rodman.

You might wonder what kind of marriage metaphor I am leading into. There is no metaphor. I was the literal rodman. My husband is an engineer who knows how to do surveying. Very early in our marriage, he bought a used surveying gun (yes, they call it a gun) and a rod. I’ve seen similar equipment in museum displays.

We used it to level the mailbox at our first house. He ran the gun and I held the rod. I’m sure the neighbors found it curious. I wonder if the current owners appreciate their level mailbox.

Next it was sprinkler systems. The pipes need to slope downward to drain properly. He ran the gun and I held the rod. I didn’t mind. It was an inexpensive way to spend time together on a sunny day. Teamwork is a part of marriage, and I didn’t have the training to run the gun.

Our surveying activity ramped-up when we purchased old mining claims for cheap in the Colorado Mountains, most of them inaccessible by road (which is why they were cheap). Unlike a cabin site or a home, the property boundaries weren’t marked.

Bring out the surveying equipment. These sites were bigger than our yard. So, bring out the walkie-talkies, too. If I was too far away or next to a stream, I couldn’t hear him say, “Move five feet to the left.” And he couldn’t hear me say, “That’s in the middle of the creek.” (This was before cell phones, and many of these locations are still out of range for mobile phones.)

For many summers, we poked around the mountains. I enjoyed the scenery and read novels while he collected rocks and studied the maps. Then the surveying equipment came out and I held the rod. A completely unfair arrangement since he stayed mostly in one place with the gun while I hiked the property to position the rod.

GPS improved things, but was less accurate.

Last summer, we rented modern, professional surveying equipment, and a robot took my place. My husband could run the gun from a remote control and hold the rod at the same time. The new rod had a mirror on top for the gun to key in on. The robot gun rotated to follow the mirror. How cool is that?

Check out this video of my replacement.


I enjoyed a fun trip to the mountains. While he tromped around with the rod, I took pictures and read a novel.

I love technology.

But alas, we only rented that cool technology, for most little projects around the yard I’m still the rodman. Quality time with hubby. Next project: a new foundation for the shed.

#Mailbox #Surveying #Silverton #Marriage #SprinklerSystem #mountains #SanJaunMountains

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